Verses for Children - and Songs for Music
by Juliana Horatia Ewing
1  2     Next Part
Home - Random Browse










[Published under the direction of the General Literature Committee.]


It has been decided in publishing this volume to reproduce the illustrations with which the verses originally appeared in Aunt Judy's Magazine. In all cases Mrs. Ewing wrote the lines to fit the pictures, and it is worthy of note to observe how closely she has introduced every detail into her words. Most of the woodcuts are by German artists, Oscar Pletsch, Fedor Flinzer, and others; but the frontispiece is from an original sketch by Mr. Gordon Browne. In accordance with his special desire, it has only been used for Mrs. Ewing's poem, as the Convalescent was a little friend of the artist, who did not live to complete his recovery. The poem is the last that Mrs. Ewing wrote for children, and it was penned when she herself was enduring the discomforts of convalescence with all the courage she so warmly advocates.

Mr. Randolph Caldecott's illustrations to "Mother's Birthday Review" first appeared in his Sketch Book, but the letterpress that accompanied them was very brief, and Mrs. Ewing could not resist asking permission to write some verses to the pictures, and publish them in Aunt Judy's Magazine. This favour was kindly granted, and by Mrs. Caldecott's further kindness the sketches are again used here.

The contents of this volume have been arranged chronologically as far as is possible.

"The Willow Man" and "Grandmother's Spring" were both written to protest against wantonly wasting Dame Nature's gifts, and the Note on page 69 shows that Mrs. Ewing had learnt this lesson herself in childhood. My Father has lately recalled an incident which he believes first roused our Mother to teach the lesson to us. They were driving to Sheffield one day, when on Bolsover Hill they saw a well-known veterinary surgeon of the district, Mr. Peech, who had dismounted from his horse, and was carefully taking up a few roots of white violets from a bank where they grew in some profusion. He showed Mrs. Gatty what he was gathering, but told her he was taking care to leave a bit behind. This happened fully forty years ago, long before the Selborne and other Societies for the preservation of rare plants and birds had come into existence, and Mother was much impressed and pleased by Mr. Peech's delicate scrupulousness.

"A Soldier's Children" was written in 1879, whilst many friends were fighting in South Africa, and ten years before a story bearing the same name was issued by the writer of Bootles' Baby.

The "Songs for Music" appeared in 1874 in a volume called Songs by Four Friends, except the two last poems, "Anemones" and "Autumn Tints." The former was given by Mrs. Ewing to her brother, Mr. Alfred Scott-Gatty, to set to music, and it has recently been published by Messrs. Boosey. "Autumn Tints" was found amongst Mrs. Ewing's papers after her death, and is now printed for the first time.


June 1895.























































TEACH ME. (From the Danish)



Found in the garden—dead in his beauty. Ah! that a linnet should die in the spring! Bury him, comrades, in pitiful duty, Muffle the dinner-bell, solemnly ring.

Bury him kindly—up in the corner; Bird, beast, and gold-fish are sepulchred there; Bid the black kitten march as chief mourner, Waving her tail like a plume in the air.

Bury him nobly—next to the donkey; Fetch the old banner, and wave it about: Bury him deeply—think of the monkey, Shallow his grave, and the dogs got him out.

Bury him softly—white wool around him, Kiss his poor feathers,—the first kiss and last; Tell his poor widow kind friends have found him: Plant his poor grave with whatever grows fast.

Farewell, sweet singer! dead in thy beauty, Silent through summer, though other birds sing; Bury him, comrades, in pitiful duty, Muffle the dinner-bell, mournfully ring.

Fritz and I are not brother and sister, but we're next-door neighbours; for we both live next door. I mean we both live next door to each other; for I live at number three, and Fritz and Nickel the dog live at number four. In summer we climb through the garret windows and sit together on the leads, And if the sun is too hot Mother lends us one big kerchief to put over both our heads. Sometimes she gives us tea under the myrtle tree in the big pot that stands in the gutter. (One slice each, and I always give Fritz the one that has the most butter.) In winter we sit on the little stool by the stove at number four; For when it's cold Fritz doesn't like to go out to come in next door. It was one day in spring that he said, "I should like to have a house to myself with you Grethel, and Nickel." And I said, "Thank you, Fritz." And he said, "If you'll come in at tea-time and sit by the stove, I'll tell you tales that'll frighten you into fits. About boys who ran away from their homes, and were taken by robbers, and run after by wolves, and altogether in a dreadful state. I saw the pictures of it in a book I was looking in, to see where perhaps I should like to emigrate. I've not quite settled whether I shall, or be cast away on a desert island, or settle down nearer home; But you'd better come in and hear about it, and then, wherever it is, you'll be sure to be ready to come." So I took my darling Katerina in my arms, and we went in to tea. I love Katerina, though she lost her head long ago, poor thing; but Fritz made me put her off my knee, For he said, "When you're hushabying that silly old doll I know you're not attending to me. Now look here, Grethel, I think I have made up my mind that we won't go far; For we can have a house, and I can be master of it just as well where we are. Under the stairs would be a good place for a house for us if there's room. It's very dirty, but you're the housewife now, and you must sweep it out well with the broom. I shall expect you to keep my house very comfortable, and have my meals ready when there's anything to eat; And when Nickel and I come back from playing outside, you may peep out and pretend you're watching for us coming up the street. You've kept your apple, I see—I've eaten mine—well, it will be something to make a start, And I'll put by some of my cake, if you'll keep some of yours, and remember Nickel must have part. I call it your cake and your apple, but of course now you're my housewife everything belongs to me; But I shall give you the management of it, and you must make it go as far as you can amongst three. And if you make nice feasts every day for me and Nickel, and never keep us waiting for our food, And always do everything I want, and attend to everything I say, I'm sure I shall almost always be good. And if I am naughty now and then, it'll most likely be your fault; and, if it isn't, you mustn't mind; For even if I seem to be cross, you ought to know that I mean to be kind. And I'm sure you'll like combing Nickel's hair for my sake; it'll be something for you to do, and it bothers me so! But it must be done regularly, for if it's not, his curls tangle into lugs as they grow. I think that's all, dear Grethel, for I love you so much that I'm sure to be easy to please. Only remember—it's a trifle—but when I want you, never keep that headless doll on your knees. I'd much rather not have her in my house—there, don't cry! if you will have her, I suppose it must be; Though I can't think what you want with Katerina when you've got Nickel and me." So I said, "Thank you, dear Fritz, for letting me bring her, for I've had her so long I shouldn't like to part with her now; And I'll try and do everything you want as well as I can, now you've told me how." But next morning I heard Fritz's garret-window open, and he put out his head, And shouted, "Grethel! Grethel! I want you. Be quick! Haven't you got out of bed?" I ran to the window and said, "What is it, dear Fritz?" and he said, "I want to tell you that I've changed my mind. Hans-Wandermann is here, and he says there are real sapphires on the beach; so I'm off to see what I can find." "Oh, Fritz!" I said, "can't I come too?" but he said, "You'd better not, you'll only be in the way. You can stop quietly at home with Katerina, and you may have Nickel too, if he'll stay." But Nickel wouldn't. I give him far more of my cake than Fritz does, but he likes Fritz better than me. So dear Katerina and I had breakfast together on the leads under the old myrtle tree.


There once was a Willow, and he was very old, And all his leaves fell off from him, and left him in the cold; But ere the rude winter could buffet him with snow, There grew upon his hoary head a crop of Mistletoe.

All wrinkled and furrowed was this old Willow's skin, His taper fingers trembled, and his arms were very thin; Two round eyes and hollow, that stared but did not see, And sprawling feet that never walked, had this most ancient tree.

A Dame who dwelt near was the only one who knew That every year upon his head the Christmas berries grew; And when the Dame cut them, she said—it was her whim— "A merry Christmas to you, Sir!" and left a bit for him.

"Oh, Granny dear, tell us," the children cried, "where we May find the shining Mistletoe that grows upon the tree?" At length the Dame told them, but cautioned them to mind To greet the Willow civilly, and leave a bit behind.

"Who cares," said the children, "for this old Willow-man? We'll take the Mistletoe, and he may catch us if he can." With rage the ancient Willow shakes in every limb, For they have taken all, and have not left a bit for him!

Then bright gleamed the holly, the Christmas berries shone, But in the wintry wind without the Willow-man did moan: "Ungrateful, and wasteful! the mystic Mistletoe A hundred years hath grown on me, but never more shall grow."

A year soon passed by, and the children came once more, But not a sprig of Mistletoe the aged Willow bore. Each slender spray pointed; he mocked them in his glee, And chuckled in his wooden heart, that ancient Willow-tree.


Oh, children, who gather the spoils of wood and wold, From selfish greed and wilful waste your little hands withhold. Though fair things be common, this moral bear in mind, "Pick thankfully and modestly, and leave a bit behind."


The winter is gone; and at first Jack and I were sad, Because of the snow-man's melting, but now we are glad; For the spring has come, and it's warm, and we're allowed to garden in the afternoon; And summer is coming, and oh, how lovely our flowers will be in June! We are so fond of flowers, it makes us quite happy to think Of our beds—all colours—blue, white, yellow, purple, and pink, Scarlet, lilac, and crimson! And we're fond of sweet scents as well, And mean to have pinks, roses, sweet peas, mignonette, clove carnations, musk, and everything good to smell; Lavender, rosemary, and we should like a lemon-scented verbena, and a big myrtle tree! And then if we could get an old "preserved-ginger" pot, and some bay-salt, we could make pot-pourri. Jack and I have a garden, though it's not so large as the big one, you know; But whatever can be got to grow in a garden we mean to grow. We've got Bachelor's Buttons, and London Pride, and Old Man, and everything that's nice: And last year Jack sowed green peas for our dolls' dinners, but they were eaten up by the mice. And he would plant potatoes in furrows, which made the garden in a mess, So this year we mean to have no kitchen-garden but mustard and cress. One of us plants, and the other waters, but Jack likes the watering-pot; And then when my turn comes to water he says it's too hot! We sometimes quarrel about the garden, and once Jack hit me with the spade; So we settled to divide it in two by a path up the middle, and that's made. We want some yellow sand now to make the walk pretty, but there's none about here, So we mean to get some in the old carpet-bag, if we go to the seaside this year. On Monday we went to the wood and got primrose plants and a sucker of a dog-rose; It looks like a green stick in the middle of the bed at present; but wait till it blows! The primroses were in full flower, and the rose ought to flower soon; You've no idea how lovely they are in that wood in June! The primroses look quite withered now, I am sorry to say, But that is not our fault but Nurse's, and it shows how hard it is to garden when you can't have your own way. We planted them carefully, and were just going to water them all in a lump, When Nurse fetched us both indoors, and put us to bed for wetting our pinafores at the pump. It's very hard, and I'm sure the gardener's plants wouldn't grow any better than ours, If Nurse fetched him in and sent him to bed just when he was going to water his flowers. We've got Blue Nemophila and Mignonette, and Venus's Looking-glass, and many other seeds; The Nemophila comes up spotted, which is how we know it from the weeds. At least it's sure to come up if the hens haven't scratched it up first. But when it is up the cats roll on it, and that is the worst! I sowed a ring of sweet peas, and the last time I looked they were coming nicely on, Just sprouting white, and I put them safely back; but when Jack looked he found they were gone. Jack made a great many cuttings, but he has had rather bad luck, I've looked at them every day myself, and not one of them has struck. The gardener gave me a fine moss-rose, but Jack took it to his side, I kept moving it back, but he took it again, and at last it died. But now we've settled to dig up the path, and have the bed as it was before, So everything will belong to us both, and we shan't ever quarrel any more. It is such a long time, too, to wait for the sand, and perhaps sea-sand does best on the shore. We're going to take everything up, for it can't hurt the plants to stand on the grass for a minute, And you really can't possibly rake a bed smooth with so many things in it. We shall dig it all over, and get leaf-mould from the wood, and hoe up the weeds, And when it's tidy we shall plant, and put labels, and strike cuttings, and sow seeds. We are so fond of flowers, Jack and I often dream at night Of getting up and finding our garden ablaze with all colours, blue, red, yellow, and white. And Midsummer's coming, and big brother Tom will sit under the tree With his book, and Mary will beg sweet nosegays of Jack and me. The worst is, we often start for the seaside about Midsummer Day, And no one takes care of our gardens whilst we are away. But if we sow lots of seeds, and take plenty of cuttings before we leave home, When we come back, our flowers will be all in full bloom, Bright, bright sunshine above, and sweet, sweet flowers below. Come, oh Midsummer, quickly come! and go quickly, Midsummer, go!

P.S. It is so tiresome! Jack wants to build a green-house now, He has found some bits of broken glass, and an old window-frame, and he says he knows how. I tell him there's not glass enough, but he says there's lots, And he's taken all the plants that belong to the bed and put them in pots.


He is not John the gardener, And yet the whole day long Employs himself most usefully, The flower-beds among.

He is not Tom the pussy-cat, And yet the other day, With stealthy stride and glistening eye, He crept upon his prey.

He is not Dash the dear old dog, And yet, perhaps, if you Took pains with him and petted him, You'd come to love him too.

He's not a Blackbird, though he chirps, And though he once was black; And now he wears a loose grey coat, All wrinkled on the back.

He's got a very dirty face, And very shining eyes! He sometimes comes and sits indoors; He looks—and p'r'aps is—wise.

But in a sunny flower-bed He has his fixed abode; He eats the things that eat my plants— He is a friendly TOAD.


We meant to be very kind, But if ever we find Another soft, grey-green, moss-coated, feather-lined nest in a hedge, We have taken a pledge— Susan, Jemmy, and I—with remorseful tears, at this very minute, That if there are eggs or little birds in it— Robin or wren, thrush, chaffinch or linnet— We'll leave them there To their mother's care. There were three of us—Kate, and Susan, and Jem— And three of them— I don't know their names, for they couldn't speak, Except with a little imperative squeak, Exactly like Poll, Susan's squeaking doll; But squeaking dolls will lie on the shelves For years and never squeak of themselves: The reason we like little birds so much better than toys Is because they are really alive, and know how to make a noise.

There were three of us, and three of them; Kate,—that is I,—and Susan, and Jem. Our mother was busy making a pie, And theirs, we think, was up in the sky; But for all Susan, Jemmy, or I can tell, She may have been getting their dinner as well. They were left to themselves (and so were we) In a nest in the hedge by the willow tree; And when we caught sight of three red little fluff-tufted, hazel-eyed, open-mouthed, pink-throated heads, we all shouted for glee.

The way we really did wrong was this: We took them for Mother to kiss, And she told us to put them back; Whilst out on the weeping-willow their mother was crying "Alack!" We really heard Both what Mother told us to do, and the voice of the mother-bird. But we three—that is Susan and I and Jem— Thought we knew better than either of them: And in spite of our mother's command and the poor bird's cry, We determined to bring up her three little nestlings ourselves on the sly.

We each took one, It did seem such excellent fun! Susan fed hers on milk and bread, Jem got wriggling worms for his instead. I gave mine meat, For, you know, I thought, "Poor darling pet! why shouldn't it have roast beef to eat?" But, oh dear! oh dear! oh dear! how we cried When in spite of milk and bread and worms and roast beef, the little birds died! It's a terrible thing to have heart-ache, I thought mine would break As I heard the mother-bird's moan, And looked at the grey-green, moss-coated, feather-lined nest she had taken such pains to make, And her three little children dead, and as cold as stone. Mother said, and it's sadly true, "There are some wrong things one can never undo." And nothing that we could do or say Would bring life back to the birds that day.

The bitterest tears that we could weep Wouldn't wake them out of their stiff cold sleep. But then, We—Susan and Jem and I—mean never to be so selfish, and wilful, and cruel again. And we three have buried those other three In a soft, green, moss-covered, flower-lined grave at the foot of the willow tree. And all the leaves which its branches shed We think are tears because they are dead.



Hush-a-by, Baby! Your baby, Mamma, No one but pussy may go where you are; Soft-footed pussy alone may pass by, For, if he wakens, your baby will cry.

Hush-a-by, Dolly! My baby are you, Yellow-haired Dolly, with eyes of bright blue; Though I say "Hush!" because Mother does so, You wouldn't cry like her baby, I know!

Hush-a-by, Baby! Mamma walks about, Sings to you softly, or rocks you without; If you slept sounder, then I might walk too, Sing to my Dolly, and rock her like you!

Hush-a-by Dolly! Sleep sweetly, my pet! Dear Mamma made you this fine berceaunette, Muslin and rose-colour, ribbon and lace; When had a baby a cosier place?

Hush-a-by, Baby! the baby who cries. Why, dear Mamma, don't you shut baby's eyes? Pull down his wire, as I do, you see; Lay him by Dolly, and come out with me.

Hush-a-by, Dolly! Mamma will not speak; You, my dear baby, would sleep for a week. Poor Mamma's baby allows her no rest, Hush-a-by, Dolly, of babies the best!


Hear me now, my hobby-horse, my steed of prancing paces! Time is it that you and I won something more than races. I have got a fine cocked hat, with feathers proudly waving; Out into the world we'll go, both death and danger braving.

Doubt not that I know the way—the garden-gate is clapping: Who forgot to lock it last deserves his fingers slapping. When they find we can't be found, oh won't there be a chorus! You and I may laugh at that, with all the world before us.

All the world, the great green world that lies beyond the paling! All the sea, the great round sea where ducks and drakes are sailing! I a knight, my charger thou, together we will wander Out into that grassy waste where dwells the Goosey Gander.

Months ago, my faithful steed, that Goose attacked your master; How it hissed, and how I cried! It ran, but I ran faster! Down upon my face I fell, its awful wings were o'er me, Mother came and picked me up, and off to bed she bore me.

Months have passed, my faithful steed, both you and I are older, Sheathless is my wooden sword, my heart I think is bolder. Always ready bridled thou, with reins of crimson leather; Woe betide the Goose to-day who meets us both together!

Up then now, my hobby-horse, my steed of prancing paces! Time it is that you and I won something more than races. I a knight, my charger thou, together we will wander Out into that grassy waste where dwells the Goosey Gander.


Sally is the laundress, and every Saturday She sends our clean clothes up from the wash, and Nurse puts them away. Sometimes Sally is very kind, but sometimes she's as cross as a Turk; When she's good-humoured we like to go and watch her at work. She has tubs and a copper in the wash-house, and a great big fire and plenty of soap; And outside is the drying-ground with tall posts, and pegs bought from the gipsies, and long lines of rope. The laundry is indoors with another big fire, and long tables, and a lot of irons, and a crimping-machine; And horses (not live ones with tails, but clothes-horses) and the same starch that is used by the Queen. Sally wears pattens in the wash-house, and turns up her sleeves, and splashes, and rubs, And makes beautiful white lather which foams over the tops of the tubs, Like waves at the seaside dashing against the rocks, only not so strong. If I were Sally I should sit and blow soap-bubbles all the day long. Sally is angry sometimes because of the way we dirty our frocks, Making mud pies, and rolling down the lawn, and climbing trees, and scrambling over the rocks. She says we do it on purpose, and never try to take care; But if things have got to go to the wash, what can it matter how dirty they are? Last week Mary and I got a lot of kingcups from the bog, and I carried them home in my skirt; It was the end of the week, and our frocks were done, so we didn't mind about the dirt. But Sally was as cross as two sticks, and won't wash our dolls' clothes any more—so she said,— But never mind, for we'll ask Mamma if we may have a real Dolls' Wash of our own instead.

* * * * *

Mamma says we may on one condition, to which we agree; We're to really wash the dolls' clothes, and make them just what clean clothes should be. She says we must wash them thoroughly, which of course we intend to do, We mean to rub, wring, dry, mangle, starch, iron, and air them too. A regular wash must be splendid fun, and everybody knows That any one in the world can wash out a few dirty clothes.

* * * * *

Well, we've had the Dolls' Wash, but it's only pretty good fun. We're glad we've had it, you know, but we're gladder still that it's done. As we wanted to have as big a wash as we could, we collected everything we could muster, From the dolls' bed dimity hangings to Victoria's dress, which I'd used as a duster. It was going to the wash, and Mary and I were house-maids—fancy house-maids, I mean— And I took it to dust the bookshelf, for I knew it would come back clean. Well, we washed in the wash-hand-basin, which holds a good deal, as the things are small; We made a glorious lather, and splashed half over the floor; but the clothes weren't white after all. However, we hung them out in our drying-ground in the garden, which we made with dahlia-sticks and long strings, And then Dash went and knocked over one of the posts, and down in the dirt went our things! So we washed them again and hung them on the towel-horse, and most of them came all right, But Victoria's muslin dress—though I rinsed it again and again—will never dry white! And the grease-spots on Mary's doll's dress don't seem to come out, and we can't think how they got there; Unless it was when we made that Macassar-oil, because she has real hair. I knew mine was going to the wash, but I'm sorry I used it as a duster before it went; We think dirty clothes perhaps shouldn't be too dirty before they are sent. We had sad work in trying to make the starch—I wonder what the Queen does with hers? I stirred mine up with a candle, like Sally, but it only made it worse; So we had to ask Mamma's leave to have ours made by Nurse. Nurse makes beautiful starch—like water-arrowroot when you're ill—in a minute or two. It's a very odd thing that what looks so easy should be so difficult to do! Then Mary put the iron down to heat, but as soon as she'd turned her back, A jet of gas came sputtering out of the coals and smoked it black. We dared not ask Sally for another, for we knew she'd refuse it, So we had to clean this one with sand and brown-paper before we could use it. It was very hard work, but I rubbed till I made it shine; Yet as soon as it got on a damped "fine thing" it left a brown line. I rubbed it for a long, long time before it would iron without a mark, But it did at last, and we finished our Dolls' Wash just before dark.

* * * * *

Sally's very kind, for she praised our wash, and she has taken away Victoria's dress to do it again; and I really must say She was right when she said, "You see, young ladies, a week's wash isn't all play." Our backs ache, our faces are red, our hands are all wrinkled, and we've rubbed our fingers quite sore; We feel very sorry for Sally every week, and we don't mean to dirty our dresses so much any more.


Father is building a new house, but I've had one given to me for my own; Brick red, with a white window, and black where it ought to be glass, and the chimney yellow, like stone. Brother Bill made me the shelves with his tool-box, and the table I had before, and the pestle-and-mortar; And Mother gave me the jam-pot when it was empty; it's rather big, but it's the only pot we have that will really hold water. We—that is I and Jemima, my doll. (For it's a Doll's House, you know, Though some of the things are real, like the nutmeg-grater, but not the wooden plates that stand in a row. They came out of a box of toy tea-things, and I can't think what became of the others; But one never can tell what becomes of anything when one has brothers.) Jemima is much smaller than I am, and, being made of wood, she is thin; She takes up too much room inside, but she can lie outside on the roof without breaking it in. I wish I had a drawing-room to put her in when I want to really cook; I have to have the kitchen-table outside as it is, and the pestle-and-mortar is rather too heavy for it, and everybody can look. There's no front door to the house, because there's no front to have a door in, and beside, If there were, I couldn't play with anything, for I shouldn't know how to get inside. I never heard of a house with only one room, except the cobbler's, and his was a stall. I don't quite know what that is; but it isn't a house, and it served him for parlour and kitchen and all. Father says that whilst he is about it, he thinks he shall add on a wing; And brother Bill says he'll nail my Doll's House on the top of an old tea-chest, which will come to the same thing.

* * * * *

Father's house is not finished, though the wing is; for now the builder says it will be all wrong if there isn't another to match; And my house isn't done either, though it's nailed on, for Bill took off the roof to make a new one of thatch. The paint is very much scratched, but he says that's nothing, for it must have had a new coat; And he means to paint it for me, inside and out, when he paints his own boat. There's a sad hole in the floor, but Bill says the wood is as rotten as rotten can be: Which was why he made such a mess of the side with trying to put real glass in the window, through which one can see. Bill says he believes that the shortest plan would be to make a new Doll's House with proper rooms, in the regular way; Which was what the builder said to Father when he wanted to build in the old front; and to-day I heard him tell him the old materials were no good to use and weren't worth the expense of carting away. I don't know when I shall be able to play at dolls again, for all the things are put away in a box; Except Jemima and the pestle-and-mortar, and they're in the bottom drawer with my Sunday frocks. I almost wish I had kept the house as it was before; We managed very well with a painted window and without a front door. I don't know what Father means to do with his house, but if ever mine is finished, I'll never have it altered any more.



"The breeze is on the Blue-bells, The wind is on the lea; Stay out! stay out! my little lad, And chase the wind with me. If you will give yourself to me, Within the fairy ring, At deep midnight, When stars are bright, You'll hear the Blue-bells ring— D! DI! DIN! DING! On slender stems they swing.

"The rustling wind, the whistling wind, We'll chase him to and fro, We'll chase him up, we'll chase him down To where the King-cups grow; And where old Jack-o'-Lantern waits To light us on our way, And far behind, Upon the wind, The Blue-bells seem to play— D! DI! DIN! DING! Lest we should go astray.

"So gay that fairy music, So jubilant those bells, How days and weeks and months go by No happy listener tells! The toad-stools are with sweetmeats spread, The new Moon lends her light, And ringers small Wait, one and all, To ring with all their might— D! DI! DIN! DING! And welcome you to night."


"My mother made me promise To be in time for tea, 'Go home! go home!' the breezes say, That sigh along the lea. I dare not give myself away; For what would Mother do? I wish I might Stay out all night At fairy games with you. D! DI! DIN! DING! And hear the bells of blue.

"But Father sleeps beneath the grass, And Mother is alone: And who would fill the pails, and fetch The wood when I am gone? And who, when little Sister ails, Can comfort her, but me? Her cries and tears Would reach my ears Through all the melody— D! DI! DIN! DING! Of Blue-bells on the lea."

The sun was on the Blue-bells, The lad was on the lea. "Oh, wondrous bells! Oh, fairy bells! I pray you ring to me. I only did as Mother bade, For tea I did not care, And winds at night Give more delight Than all this noonday glare." D! DI! DIN! DING! No sound of bells was there.


"The snow lies o'er the Blue-bells, A storm is on the lea; Our hearth is warm, the fire burns bright, The flames dance merrily. Oh, Mother dear! I would no more That on that summer's day, Within the ring, The Fairy King Had stolen me away— D! DI! DIN! DING! To where the Blue-bells play.

"Yet when the storm is loudest, At deep midnight I dream, And up and down upon the lea To chase the wind I seem; While by my side, in feathered cap, There runs the Fairy King, And down below, Beneath the snow, We hear the Blue-bells ring— D! DI! DIN! DING! Such happy dreams they bring!"


When I go to tea with the little Smiths, there are eight of them there, but there's only one of me, Which makes it not so easy to have a fancy tea-party as if there were two or three. I had a tea-party on my birthday, but Joe Smith says it can't have been a regular one, Because as to a tea-party with only one teacup and no teapot, sugar-basin, cream-jug, or slop-basin, he never heard of such a thing under the sun. But it was a very big teacup, and quite full of milk and water, and, you see, There wasn't anybody there who could really drink milk and water except Towser and me. The dolls can only pretend, and then it washes the paint off their lips, And what Charles the canary drinks isn't worth speaking of, for he takes such very small sips. Joe says a kitchen-chair isn't a table; but it has got four legs and a top, so it would be if the back wasn't there; And that does for Charles to perch on, and I have to put the Prince of Wales to lean against it, because his legs have no joints to sit on a chair.

That's the small doll. I call him the Prince of Wales because he's the eldest son, you see; For I've taken him for my brother, and he was Mother's doll before I was born, so of course he is older than me. Towser is my real live brother, but I don't think he's as old as the Prince of Wales; He's a perfect darling, though he whisks everything over he comes near, and I tell him I don't know what we should do if we all had tails. His hair curls like mine in front, and grows short like a lion behind, but no one need be frightened, for he's as good as good; And as to roaring like a real menagerie lion, or eating people up, I don't believe he would if he could. He has his tea out of the saucer after I've had mine out of the cup; You see I am sure to leave some for him, but if I let him begin first he would drink it all up. The big doll Godmamma gave me this birthday, and the chair she gave me the year before. (I haven't many toys, but I take great care of them, and every birthday I shall have more and more.) You've no idea what a beautiful doll she is, and when I pinch her in the middle, she can squeak; It quite frightened Towser, for he didn't know that any of us but he and I and Charles were able to speak. I've taken her for my only sister, for of course I may take anybody I choose; I've called her Cinderella, because I'm so fond of the story, and because she's got real shoes. I don't feel so only now there are so many of us; for, counting Cinderella there are five,— She, and I, and Towser, and Charles, and the Prince of Wales—and three of us are really alive; And four of us can speak, and I'm sure the Prince of Wales is wonderful for his size; For his things (at least he's only got one thing) take off and on, and, though he's nothing but wood, he's got real glass eyes. And perhaps in three birthdays more there may be as many of us as the Smiths, for five and three make eight; I shall be seven years old then (as old as Joe), but I don't like to think too much of it, it's so long to wait. And after all I don't know that I want any more of us: I think I'd rather my sister had a chair Like mine; and the next year I should like a collar for Towser if it wouldn't rub off his hair. And it would be very nice if the Prince of Wales could be dressed like a Field-marshal, for he's got nothing on his legs; And Cinderella's beautifully dressed, and Towser looks quite as if he'd got a fur coat on when he begs. Joe says it's perfectly absurd, and that I can't take a Pomeranian in earnest for my brother; But I don't think he really and truly knows how much Towser and I love each other. I didn't like his saying, "Well, there's one thing about your lot,—you can always have your own way." And then he says, "You can't possibly have fun with four people when you have to pretend what they say." But, whatever he says, I don't believe I shall ever enjoy a tea-party more than the one that we had on that day.


Can any one look so wise, and have so little in his head? How long will it be, Papa Poodle, before you have learned to read? You were called Papa Poodle because you took care of me when I was a baby: And now I can read words of three syllables, and you sit with a book before you like a regular gaby. You've not read a word since I put you in that corner ten minutes ago; Bill and I've fought the battle of Waterloo since dinner, and you've not learned BA BE BI BO. Here am I doing the whole British Army by myself, for Bill is obliged to be the French; And I've come away to hear you say your lesson, and left Bill waiting for me in the trench. And there you sit, with a curly white wig, like the Lord Chief Justice, and as grave a face, Looking the very picture of goodness and wisdom, when you're really in the deepest disgrace. Those woolly locks of yours grow thicker and thicker, Papa Poodle. Does the wool tangle inside as well as outside your head? and is it that which makes you such a noodle? You seem so clever at some things, and so stupid at others, and I keep wondering why; But I'm afraid the truth is, Papa Poodle, that you're uncommonly sly. You did no spelling-lessons last week, for you were out from morning till night, Except when you slunk in, like a dirty door-mat on legs, and with one ear bleeding from a fight, Looking as if you'd no notion what o'clock it was, and had come home to see. But your watch keeps very good meal-time, Papa Poodle, for you're always at breakfast, and dinner, and tea. No, it's no good your shaking hands and licking me with your tongue,—I know you can do that; But sitting up, and giving paws, and kissing, won't teach you to spell C A T, Cat. I wonder, if I let you off lessons, whether I could teach you to pull the string with your teeth, and fire our new gun? If I could, you might be the Artillery all to yourself, and it would be capital fun. You wag your tail at that, do you? You would like it a great deal better? But I can't bear you to be such a dunce, when you look so wise; and yet I don't believe you'll ever learn a letter. Aunt Jemima is going to make me a new cocked hat out of the next old newspaper, for I want to have a review; But the newspaper after that, Papa Poodle, must be kept to make a fool's cap for you.


"In my young days," the grandmother said (Nodding her head, Where cap and curls were as white as snow), "In my young days, when we used to go Rambling, Scrambling; Each little dirty hand in hand, Like a chain of daisies, a comical band Of neighbours' children, seriously straying, Really and truly going a-Maying, My mother would bid us linger, And lifting a slender, straight forefinger, Would say— 'Little Kings and Queens of the May, Listen to me! If you want to be Every one of you very good In that beautiful, beautiful, beautiful wood, Where the little birds' heads get so turned with delight, That some of them sing all night: Whatever you pluck, Leave some for good luck; Picked from the stalk, or pulled up by the root, From overhead, or from underfoot, Water-wonders of pond or brook; Wherever you look, And whatever you find— Leave something behind: Some for the Naiads, Some for the Dryads, And a bit for the Nixies, and the Pixies.'"

"After all these years," the grandame said, Lifting her head, "I think I can hear my mother's voice Above all other noise, Saying, 'Hearken, my child! There is nothing more destructive and wild, No wild bull with his horns, No wild-briar with clutching thorns, No pig that routs in your garden-bed, No robber with ruthless tread, More reckless and rude, And wasteful of all things lovely and good, Than a child, with the face of a boy and the ways of a bear, Who doesn't care; Or some little ignorant minx Who never thinks. Now I never knew so stupid an elf, That he couldn't think and care for himself. Oh, little sisters and little brothers, Think for others, and care for others! And of all that your little fingers find, Leave something behind, For love of those that come after: Some, perchance, to cool tired eyes in the moss that stifled your laughter! Pluck, children, pluck! But leave—for good luck— Some for the Naiads, And some for the Dryads, And a bit for the Nixies, and the Pixies!'"

"We were very young," the grandmother said, Smiling and shaking her head; "And when one is young, One listens with half an ear, and speaks with a hasty tongue; So with shouted Yeses, And promises sealed with kisses, Hand-in-hand we started again, A chubby chain, Stretching the whole wide width of the lane; Or in broken links of twos and threes, For greater ease Of rambling, And scrambling, By the stile and the road, That goes to the beautiful, beautiful wood; By the brink of the gloomy pond, To the top of the sunny hill beyond, By hedge and by ditch, by marsh and by mead, By little byways that lead To mysterious bowers; Or to spots where, for those who know, There grow, In certain out-o'-way nooks, rare ferns and uncommon flowers. There were flowers everywhere, Censing the summer air, Till the giddy bees went rolling home To their honeycomb, And when we smelt at our posies, The little fairies inside the flowers rubbed coloured dust on our noses, Or pricked us till we cried aloud for snuffing the dear dog-roses. But above all our noise, I kept thinking I heard my mother's voice. But it may have been only a fairy joke, For she was at home, and I sometimes thought it was really the flowers that spoke. From the Foxglove in its pride, To the Shepherd's Purse by the bare road-side; From the snap-jack heart of the Starwort frail, To meadows full of Milkmaids pale, And Cowslips loved by the nightingale. Rosette of the tasselled Hazel-switch, Sky-blue star of the ditch; Dandelions like mid-day suns; Bindweed that runs; Butter and Eggs with the gaping lips, Sweet Hawthorn that hardens to haws, and Roses that die into hips; Lords-with-their-Ladies cheek-by-jowl, In purple surcoat and pale-green cowl; Family groups of Primroses fair; Orchids rare; Velvet Bee-orchis that never can sting, Butterfly-orchis which never takes wing, Robert-the-Herb with strange sweet scent, And crimson leaf when summer is spent: Clustering neighbourly, All this gay company, Said to us seemingly— 'Pluck, children, pluck! But leave some for good luck: Some for the Naiads, Some for the Dryads, And a bit for the Nixies, and the Pixies,'"

"I was but a maid," the grandame said, "When my mother was dead; And many a time have I stood. In that beautiful wood, To dream that through every woodland noise, Through the cracking Of twigs and the bending of bracken, Through the rustling Of leaves in the breeze, And the bustling Of dark-eyed, tawny-tailed squirrels flitting about the trees, Through the purling and trickling cool Of the streamlet that feeds the pool, I could hear her voice. Should I wonder to hear it? Why? Are the voices of tender wisdom apt to die? And now, though I'm very old, And the air, that used to feel fresh, strikes chilly and cold, On a sunny day when I potter About the garden, or totter To the seat from whence I can see, below, The marsh and the meadows I used to know, Bright with the bloom of the flowers that blossomed there long ago; Then, as if it were yesterday, I fancy I hear them say— 'Pluck, children, pluck, But leave some for good luck; Picked from the stalk, or pulled up by the root, From overhead, or from underfoot, Water-wonders of pond or brook; Wherever you look, And whatever your little fingers find, Leave something behind: Some for the Naiads, And some for the Dryads, And a bit for the Nixies, and the Pixies.'"

The following note was given in Aunt Judy's Magazine, June 1880, when "Grandmother's Spring" first appeared:—"It may interest old readers of Aunt Judy's Magazine to know that 'Leave some for the Naiads and the Dryads' was a favourite phrase with Mr. Alfred Gatty, and is not merely the charge of an imaginary mother to her 'blue-eyed banditti.' Whether my mother invented the expression for our benefit, or whether she only quoted it, I do not know. I only remember its use as a check on the indiscriminate 'collecting' and 'grubbing' of a large family; a mystic warning not without force to fetter the same fingers in later life, with all the power of a pious tradition."—J.H.E.


Are you a Giant, great big man, or is your real name Smith? Nurse says you've got a hammer that you hit bad children with. I'm good to-day, and so I've come to see if it is true That you can turn a red-hot rod into a horse's shoe.

Why do you make the horses' shoes of iron instead of leather? Is it because they are allowed to go out in bad weather? If horses should be shod with iron, Big Smith, will you shoe mine? For now I may not take him out, excepting when it's fine.

Although he's not a real live horse, I'm very fond of him; His harness won't take off and on, but still it's new and trim. His tail is hair, he has four legs, but neither hoofs nor heels; I think he'd seem more like a horse without these yellow wheels.

They say that Dapple-grey's not yours, but don't you wish he were? My horse's coat is only paint, but his is soft grey hair; His face is big and kind, like yours, his forelock white as snow— Shan't you be sorry when you've done his shoes and he must go?

I do so wish, Big Smith, that I might come and live with you; To rake the fire, to heat the rods, to hammer two and two. To be so black, and not to have to wash unless I choose; To pat the dear old horses, and to mend their poor old shoes.

When all the world is dark at night, you work among the stars, A shining shower of fireworks beat out of red-hot bars. I've seen you beat, I've heard you sing, when I was going to bed; And now your face and arms looked black, and now were glowing red.

The more you work, the more you sing, the more the bellows roar; The falling stars, the flying sparks, stream shining more and more. You hit so hard, you look so hot, and yet you never tire; It must be very nice to be allowed to play with fire.

I long to beat and sing and shine, as you do, but instead I put away my horse, and Nurse puts me away to bed. I wonder if you go to bed; I often think I'll keep Awake and see, but, though I try, I always fall asleep.

I know it's very silly, but I sometimes am afraid Of being in the dark alone, especially in bed. But when I see your forge-light come and go upon the wall, And hear you through the window, I am not afraid at all.

I often hear a trotting horse, I sometimes hear it stop; I hold my breath—you stay your song—it's at the blacksmith's shop. Before it goes, I'm apt to fall asleep, Big Smith, it's true; But then I dream of hammering that horse's shoes with you!


They've taken the cosy bed away That I made myself with the Shetland shawl, And set me a hamper of scratchy hay, By that great black stove in the entrance-hall.

I won't sleep there; I'm resolved on that! They may think I will, but they little know There's a soft persistence about a cat That even a little kitten can show.

I wish I knew what to do but pout, And spit at the dogs and refuse my tea; My fur's feeling rough, and I rather doubt Whether stolen sausage agrees with me.

On the drawing-room sofa they've closed the door, They've turned me out of the easy-chairs; I wonder it never struck me before That they make their beds for themselves up-stairs.

* * * * *

I've found a crib where they won't find me, Though they're crying "Kitty!" all over the house. Hunt for the Slipper! and riddle-my-ree! A cat can keep as still as a mouse.

It's rather unwise perhaps to purr, But they'll never think of the wardrobe-shelves. I'm happy in every hair of my fur; They may keep the hamper and hay themselves.


One of a hundred little rills— Born in the hills, Nourished with dews by the earth, and with tears by the sky, Sang—"Who so mighty as I? The farther I flow The bigger I grow. I, who was born but a little rill, Now turn the big wheel of the mill, Though the surly slave would rather stand still. Old, and weed-hung, and grim, I am not afraid of him; For when I come running and dance on his toes, With a creak and a groan the monster goes. And turns faster and faster, As he learns who is master, Round and round, Till the corn is ground, And the miller smiles as he stands on the bank, And knows he has me to thank. Then when he swings the fine sacks of flour, I feel my power; But when the children enjoy their food, I know I'm not only great but good!"

Furthermore sang the brook— "Who loves the beautiful, let him look! Garlanding me in shady spots The Forget-me-nots Are blue as the summer sky: Who so lovely as I? My King-cups of gold Shine from the shade of the alders old, Stars of the stream!— At the water-rat's threshold they gleam. From below The Frog-bit spreads me its blossoms of snow, And in masses The Willow-herb, the flags, and the grasses, Reeds, rushes, and sedges, Flower and fringe and feather my edges. To be beautiful is not amiss, But to be loved is more than this; And who more sought than I, By all that run or swim or crawl or fly? Sober shell-fish and frivolous gnats, Tawny-eyed water-rats; The poet with rippling rhymes so fluent, Boys with boats playing truant, Cattle wading knee-deep for water; And the flower-plucking parson's daughter. Down in my depths dwell creeping things Who rise from my bosom on rainbow wings, For—too swift for a school-boy's prize— Hither and thither above me dart the prismatic-hued dragon-flies. At my side the lover lingers, And with lack-a-daisical fingers, The Weeping Willow, woe-begone, Strives to stay me as I run on."

There came an hour When all this beauty and love and power Did seem But a small thing to that Mill Stream. And then his cry Was, "Why, oh! why Am I thus surrounded With checks and limits, and bounded By bank and border To keep me in order, Against my will? I, who was born to be free and unfettered—a mountain rill! But for these jealous banks, the good Of my gracious and fertilizing flood Might spread to the barren highways, And fill with Forget-me-nots countless neglected byways. Why should the rough-barked Willow for ever lave Her feet in my cooling wave; When the tender and beautiful Beech Faints with midsummer heat in the meadow just out of my reach? Could I but rush with unchecked power, The miller might grind a day's corn in an hour. And what are the ends Of life, but to serve one's friends?"

A day did dawn at last, When the spirits of the storm and the blast, Breaking the bands of the winter's frost and snow, Swept from the mountain source of the stream, and flooded the valley below. Dams were broken and weirs came down; Cottage and mill, country and town, Shared in the general inundation, And the following desolation. Then the Mill Stream rose in its might, And burst out of bounds to left and to right, Rushed to the beautiful Beech, In the meadow far out of reach. But with such torrents the poor tree died, Torn up by the roots, and laid on its side. The cattle swam till they sank, Trying to find a bank. Never more shall the broken water-wheel Grind the corn to make the meal, To make the children's bread. The miller was dead.

When the setting sun Looked to see what the Mill Stream had done In its hour Of unlimited power, And what was left when that had passed by, Behold the channel was stony and dry. In uttermost ruin The Mill Stream had been its own undoing. Furthermore it had drowned its friend: This was the end.


Oh boy, down there, I can't believe that what they say is true! We squirrels surely cannot have an enemy in you; We have so much in common, my dear friend, it seems to me That I can really feel for you, and you can feel for me.

Some human beings might not understand the life we lead; If we asked Dr. Birch to play, no doubt he'd rather read; He hates all scrambling restlessness, and chattering, scuffling noise; If he could catch us we should fare no better than you boys.

Fine ladies, too, whose flounces catch and tear on every stump, What joy have they in jagged pines, who neither skip nor jump? Miss Mittens never saw my tree-top home—so unlike hers; What wonder if her only thought of squirrels is of furs?

But you, dear boy, you know so well the bliss of climbing trees, Of scrambling up and sliding down, and rocking in the breeze, Of cracking nuts and chewing cones, and keeping cunning hoards, And all the games and all the sport and fun a wood affords.

It cannot be that you would make a prisoner of me, Who hate yourself to be cooped up, who love so to be free; An extra hour indoors, I know, is punishment to you; You make me twirl a tiny cage? It never can be true!

Yet I've a wary grandfather, whose tail is white as snow. He thinks he knows a lot of things we young ones do not know; He says we're safe with Doctor Birch, because he is so blind, And that Miss Mittens would not hurt a fly, for she is kind.

But you, dear boy, who know my ways, he bids me fly from you, He says my life and liberty are lost unless I do; That you, who fear the Doctor's cane, will fling big sticks at me, And tear me from my forest home, and from my favourite tree.

The more we think of what he says, the more we're sure it's "chaff," We sit beneath the shadow of our bushy tails and laugh; Hey, presto! Friend, come up, and let us hide and seek and play, If you could spring as well as climb, what fun we'd have to-day!


Oh, how greedy you look as you stare at my plate, Your mouth waters so, and your big tail is drumming Flop! flop! flop! on the carpet, and yet if you'll wait, When we have quite finished, your dinner is coming.

Yes! I know what you mean, though you don't speak a word; You say that you wish that I kindly would let you Take your meals with the family, which is absurd, And on a tall chair like a gentleman set you.

But how little you think, my dear dog, when you talk; You've no "table manners," you bolt meat, you gobble; And how could you eat bones with a knife, spoon, and fork? You would be in a most inconvenient hobble.

And yet, once on a time it is certainly true, My own manners wanted no little refining; For I gobbled, and spilled, and was greedy like you, And had no idea of good manners when dining.

So that when I consider the tricks you have caught, To sit or shake paws with the utmost good breeding, I must own it quite possible you may be taught The use of a plate, and a nice style of feeding.

Therefore try to learn manners, and eat as I do; Don't glare at the joint, and as soon as you're able To behave like the rest, you shall feed with us too, And dine like a gentleman sitting at table.


I always was a remarkable child; so old for my age, and such a sensitive nature!—Mamma often says so. And I'm the sweetest, little dear in my blue ribbons, and quite a picture in my Pompadour hat!—Mrs. Brown told her so on Sunday, and that's how I know. And I'm a sacred responsibility to my parents—(it was what the clergyman's wife at the seaside said), And a solemn charge, and a fair white page, and a tender bud, and a spotless nature of wax to be moulded;—but the rest of it has gone out of my head. There was a lot more, and she left two books as well, and I think she called me a Privilege, and Mamma said "Yes," and began to cry. And Nurse came in with luncheon on a tray, and put away the books, and said she was as weak as a kitten, and worried to fiddlestrings, as any one with common sense could see with half an eye. I was hopping round the room, but I stopped and said, "My kitten's not weak, and I don't believe anybody could see with only half an eye. Could they, Mamma?" And Nurse said, "Go and play, my dear, and let your Mamma rest;" but Mamma said, "No, my love, stay where you are. Dear Nurse, lift me up, and put a pillow to my back, I know you mean to be kind; But she does ask such remarkable questions, and while I've strength to speak, don't let me check the inquiring mind. If I should fail to be all a mother ought—oh, how my head throbs when the dear child jumps!" and then Nurse said, "Ugh! When you're worried into your grave, she'll have no mother at all, and'll have to tumble up as other folks do. There's the poor master at his wits' end—a child's not all a grown person has to think of—and Miss Jane would do well enough if she'd less of her own way; But there's more children spoilt with care than the want of it, and more mothers murdered than there's folks hanged for, and that's what I say. Children learns what you teach 'em, and Miss Jane's old enough to have learned to wait upon you: And if her mother thought less of her and she thought more of her mother, it would be better for her too." But Nurse is a nasty cross old thing—I hate her; and I hate the doctor, for he wanted me to be left behind When Mamma went to the sea for her health; but I begged and begged till she promised I should go, for Mamma is always kind. And she bought me a new wooden spade and a basket, and a red and green ship with three masts, and a one-and-sixpenny telescope to look at the sea; But when I got on to the sands, I thought I'd rather be on the esplanade, for there was a little girl there who was looking at me, Dressed in a navy-blue suit and a sailor hat, with fair hair tied with ribbons; so I told Mamma, And she got me a suit, ready-made (but she said it was dreadfully dear), and a hat to match, in the Pebble Brooch Repository and Universal Bazaar. It faded in the sun, and came all to pieces in the wash; but I was tired of it before. For the esplanade is very dull, and the little girl with fair hair had got sand-boots and a shrimping-net and was playing on the shore. And when my sand-boots came home, and I'd got a better net than hers, she went donkey-riding, and I knew it was to tease me, But Nurse was so cross, and said if they sent a man in a herring-boat to the moon for what I wanted that nothing would please me. So I said the seaside was a very disagreeable place, and I wished I hadn't come, And I told Mamma so, and begged her to try and get well soon, to take us all home. But now we've got home, it's very hot, and I'm afraid of the wasps; and I'm sure it was cooler at the sea, And the Smiths won't be back for a fortnight, so I can't even have Matilda to tea. I don't care much for my new doll—I think I'm too old for dolls now; I like books better, though I didn't like the last, And I've read all I have: I always skip the dull parts, and when you skip a good deal you get through them so fast. I like toys if they're the best kind, with works; though when I've had one good game with them, I don't much care to play with them again. I feel as if I wanted something new to amuse me, and Mamma says it's because I've got such an active brain. Nurse says I don't know what I want, and I know I don't, and that's just what it is. It seems so sad a young creature like me should feel unhappy, and not know what's amiss; But Nurse never thinks of my feelings, any more than the cruel nurse in the story about the little girl who was so good, And if I die early as she did, perhaps then people will be sorry I've been misunderstood. I shouldn't like to die early, but I should like people to be sorry for me, and to praise me when I was dead: If I could only come to life again when they had missed me very much, and I'd heard what they said— Of course that's impossible, I know, but I wish I knew what to do instead! It seems such a pity that a sweet little dear like me should ever be sad. And Mamma says she buys everything I want, and has taught me everything I will learn, and reads every book, and takes every hint she can pick up, and keeps me with her all day, and worries about me all night, till she's nearly mad; And if any kind person can think of any better way to make me happy we shall both of us be glad.


Permit me, Reader, to make my bow, And allow Me to humbly commend to your tender mercies The hero of these simple verses. By domicile, of the British Nation; By birth and family, a Crustacean. One's hero should have a name that rare is; And his was Homarus, but—Vulgaris! A Lobster, who dwelt with several others,— His sisters and brothers,— In a secluded but happy home, Under the salt sea's foam. It lay At the outermost point of a rocky bay. A sandy, tide-pooly, cliff-bound cove, With a red-roofed fishing village above, Of irregular cottages, perched up high Amid pale yellow poppies next to the sky. Shells and pebbles, and wrack below, And shrimpers shrimping all in a row; Tawny sails and tarry boats, Dark brown nets and old cork floats; Nasty smells at the nicest spots, And blue-jerseyed sailors and—lobster-pots.

"It is sweet to be At home in the deep, deep sea. It is very pleasant to have the power To take the air on dry land for an hour; And when the mid-day midsummer sun Is toasting the fields as brown as a bun, And the sands are baking, it's very nice To feel as cool as a strawberry ice In one's own particular damp sea-cave, Dipping one's feelers in each green wave. It is good, for a very rapacious maw, When storm-tossed morsels come to the claw; And 'the better to see with' down below, To wash one's eyes in the ebb and flow Of the tides that come and the tides that go." So sang the Lobsters, thankful for their mercies, All but the hero of these simple verses. Now a hero— If he's worth the grand old name— Though temperature may change from boiling-point to zero Should keep his temper all the same: Courageous and content in his estate, And proof against the spiteful blows of Fate. It, therefore, troubles me to have to say, That with this Lobster it was never so; Whate'er the weather or the sort of day, No matter if the tide were high or low, Whatever happened he was never pleased, And not himself alone, but all his kindred teased.

"Oh! oh! What a world of woe We flounder about in, here below! Oh dear! oh dear! It is too, too dull, down here! I haven't the slightest patience With any of my relations; I take no interest whatever In things they call curious and clever. And, for love of dear truth I state it, As for my Home—I hate it! I'm convinced I was formed for a larger sphere, And am utterly out of my element here." Then his brothers and sisters said, Each solemnly shaking his and her head, "You put your complaints in most beautiful verse, And yet we are sure, That, in spite of all you have to endure, You might go much farther and fare much worse. We wish you could live in a higher sphere, But we think you might live happily here." "I don't live, I only exist," he said, "Be pleased to look upon me as dead." And he swam to his cave, and took to his bed. He sulked so long that the sisters cried, "Perhaps he has really and truly died." But the brothers went to the cave to peep, For they said, "Perhaps he is only asleep." They found him, far too busy to talk, With a very large piece of bad salt pork. "Dear Brother, what luck you have had to-day! Can you tell us, pray, Is there any more pork afloat in the bay?" But not a word would my hero say, Except to repeat, with sad persistence, "This is not life, it's only existence."

One day there came to the fishing village An individual bent on pillage; But a robber whom true scientific feeling May find guilty of picking, but not of stealing. He picked the yellow poppies on the cliffs; He picked the feathery seaweeds in the pools; He picked the odds and ends from nets and skiffs; He picked the brains of all the country fools. He dried the poppies for his own herbarium, And caught the Lobsters for a seaside town aquarium.

"Tank No. 20" is deep, "Tank No. 20" is cool, For clever contrivances always keep The water fresh in the pool; And a very fine plate-glass window is free to the public view, Through which you can stare at the passers-by and the passers-by stare at you. Said my hero, "This is a great variety From those dull old rocks, where we'd no society."

For the primal cause of incidents, One often hunts about, When it's only a coincidence That matters so turned out. And I do not know the reason Or the reason I would tell— But it may have been the season— Why my hero chose this moment for casting off his shell. He had hitherto been dressed[1] (And so had all the rest) In purplish navy blue from top to toe! But now his coat was new, It was of every shade of blue Between azure and the deepest indigo; And his sisters kept telling him, till they were tired, There never was any one so much admired.

My hero was happy at last, you will say? So he was, dear Reader—two nights and a day; Then, as he and his relatives lay, Each at the mouth of his mock Cave in the face of a miniature rock, They saw, descending the opposite cliff, By jerks spasmodic of elbows stiff; Now hurriedly slipping, now seeming calmer, With the ease and the grace of a hog in armour, And as solemn as any ancient palmer, No less than nine Exceedingly fine And full-grown lobsters, all in a line. But the worst of the matter remains to be said. These nine big lobsters were all of them red.[2] And when they got safe to the floor of the tank,— For which they had chiefly good luck to thank,— They settled their cumbersome coats of mail, And every lobster tucked his tail Neatly under him as he sat In a circle of nine for a cosy chat. They seemed to be sitting hand in hand, As shoulder to shoulder they sat in the sand, And waved their antennae in calm rotation, Apparently holding a consultation. But what were the feelings of Master Blue Shell? Oh, gentle Reader! how shall I tell?

[Footnote 1: The colours of lobsters vary a good deal in various localities. Homarus vulgaris, the common lobster, is spotted, and, on the upper part, more or less of a bluish black. I once saw a lobster that had just got a new shell, and was of every lovely shade of blue and violet.]

[Footnote 2: Palurinus vulgaris, the spiny lobster, has no true claws, but huge hairy antennae. These lobsters are red during their lifetime! I have seen them (in the Crystal Palace Aquarium) seated exactly as here described, with blue lobsters watching them from niches of the rocky sides of the tank, where they looked like blue-jerseyed smugglers at the mouths of caves.]

From the moment that those Nine he saw, He never could bear his blue coat more. "Oh, Brothers in misfortune!" he said, "Did you ever see any lobsters so grand, As those who sit down there in the sand? Why were we born at all, since not one of us all was born red?" "Dear Brother, indeed, this is quite a whim." (So his brothers and sisters reasoned with him; And, being exceedingly cultivated, The case with remarkable fairness stated.) "Red is a primary colour, it's true, But so is Blue; And we all of us think, dear Brother, That one is quite as good as the other. A swaggering soldier's a saucy varlet, Though he looks uncommonly well in scarlet. No doubt there's much to be said For a field of poppies of glowing red; For fiery rifts in sunset skies, Roses and blushes and red sunrise; For a glow on the Alps, and the glow of a forge, A foxglove bank in a woodland gorge; Sparks that are struck from red-hot bars, The sun in a mist, and the red star Mars; Flowers of countless shades and shapes, Matadors', judges', and gipsies' capes; The red-haired king who was killed in the wood, Robin Redbreast and little Red Riding Hood; Autumn maple, and winter holly, Red-letter days of wisdom or folly; The scarlet ibis, rose cockatoos, Cardinal's gloves, and Karen's shoes; Coral and rubies, and huntsmen's pink; Red, in short, is splendid, we think. But, then, we don't think there's a pin to choose; If the Guards are handsome, so are the Blues. It's a narrow choice between Sappers and Gunners. You sow blue beans, and rear scarlet runners. Then think of the blue of a mid-day sky, Of the sea, and the hills, and a Scotchman's eye; Of peacock's feathers, forget-me-nots, Worcester china and "jap" tea-pots. The blue that the western sky wears casually, Sapphire, turquoise, and lapis-lazuli. What can look smarter Than the broad blue ribbon of Knights of the Garter? And, if the subject is not too shocking, An intellectual lady's stocking. And who that loves hues Could fail to mention The wonderful blues Of the mountain gentian?" But to all that his brothers and sisters said, He made no reply but—"I wish I were dead! I'm all over blue, and I want to be red." And he moped and pined, and took to his bed. "That little one looks uncommonly sickly, Put him back in the sea, and put him back quickly." The voice that spoke was the voice of Fate, And the lobster was soon in his former state; Where, as of old, he muttered and mumbled, And growled and grumbled: "Oh dear! what shall I do? I want to be red, and I'm all over blue."

I don't think I ever met with a book The evil genius of which was a cook; But it thus befell, In the tale I have the honour to tell; For as he was fretting and fuming about, A fisherman fished my hero out; And in process of time, he heard a voice, Which made him rejoice. The voice was the cook's, and what she said Was, "He'll soon come out a beautiful red."

He was put in the pot, The water was very hot; The less we say about this the better, It was all fulfilled to the very letter. He did become a beautiful red, But then—which he did not expect—he was dead!

Some gentle readers cannot well endure To see the ill end of a bad beginning; And hope against hope for a nicer cure For naughty heroes than to leave off sinning. And yet persisting in behaving badly, Do what one will, does commonly end sadly.

But things in general are so much mixed, That every case must stand upon its merits; And folks' opinions are so little fixed, And no one knows the least what he inherits— I should be glad to shed some parting glory Upon the hero of this simple story.

It seems to me a mean end to a ballad, But the truth is, he was made into salad; It's not how one's hero should end his days, In a mayonnaise, But I'm told that he looked exceedingly nice, With cream-coloured sauce, and pale-green lettuce and ice.

I confess that if he'd been my relation, This would not afford me any consolation; For I feel (though one likes to speak well of the dead) That it must be said, He need not have died so early lamented, If he'd been content to live contented.

P.S.—His claws were raised to very high stations; They keep the earwigs from our carnations.



Ah! There you are! I was certain I heard a strange voice from afar. Mamma calls me a pup, but I'm wiser than she; One ear cocked and I hear, half an eye and I see; Wide-awake though I doze, not a thing escapes me.

Yes! Let me guess: It's the stable-boy's hiss as he wisps down Black Bess. It sounds like a kettle beginning to sing, Or a bee on a pane, or a moth on the wing, Or my master's peg-top, just let loose from the string.

Well! Now I smell, I don't know who you are, and I'm puzzled to tell. You look like a fly dressed in very gay clothes, But I blush to have troubled my mid-day repose For a creature not worth half a twitch of my nose.

How now? Bow, wow, wow! The insect imagines we're playing, I vow! If I pat you, I promise you'll find it too hard. Be off! when a watch-dog like me is on guard, Big or little, no stranger's allowed in the yard.

Eh? "Come away!" My dear little master, is that what you say? I am greatly obliged for your kindness and cares, But I really can manage my own small affairs, And banish intruders who give themselves airs.

Snap! Yap! yap! yap! You defy me?—you pigmy, you insolent scrap! What!—this to my teeth, that have worried a score Of the biggest rats bred in the granary floor! Come on, and be swallowed! I spare you no more!

Help! Yelp! yelp! yelp! Little master, pray save an unfortunate whelp, Who began the attack, but is now in retreat, Having shown all his teeth, just escapes on his feet, And is trusting to you to make safety complete.

Oh! Let me go! My poor eye! my poor ear! my poor tail! my poor toe! Pray excuse my remarks, for I meant no such thing. Don't trouble to come—oh, the brute's on the wing! I'd no notion, I'm sure, there were flies that could sting.

Dear me! I can't see. My nose burns, my limbs shake, I'm as ill as can be. I was never in such an undignified plight. Mamma told me, and now I suppose she was right; One should know what one's after before one shows fight.


Some Homes are where flowers for ever blow, The sun shining hotly the whole year round; But our Home glistens with six months of snow, Where frost without wind heightens every sound. And Home is Home wherever it is, When we're all together and nothing amiss.

Yet Willy is old enough to recall A Home forgotten by Eily and me; He says that we left it five years since last Fall, And came sailing, sailing, right over the sea. But Home is Home wherever it is, When we're all together and nothing amiss.

Our other Home was for ever green, A green, green isle in a blue, blue sea, With sweet flowers such as we never have seen; And Willy tells all this to Eily and me. But Home is Home wherever it is, When we're all together and nothing amiss.

He says, "What fine fun when we all go back!" But Canada Home is very good fun When Pat's little sled flies along the smooth track, Or spills in the snowdrift that shines in the sun. For Home is Home wherever it is, When we're all together and nothing amiss.

Some day I should dearly love, it is true, To sail to the old Home over the sea; But only if Father and Mother went too, With Willy and Patrick and Eily and me. For Home is Home wherever it is, When we're all together and nothing amiss.



A little Brook, that babbled under grass, Once saw a Poet pass— A Poet with long hair and saddened eyes, Who went his weary way with woeful sighs. And on another time, This Brook did hear that Poet read his rueful rhyme. Now in the poem that he read, This Poet said— "Oh! little Brook that babblest under grass! (Ah me! Alack! Ah, well-a-day! Alas!) Say, are you what you seem? Or is your life, like other lives, a dream? What time your babbling mocks my mortal moods, Fair Naiad of the stream! And are you, in good sooth, Could purblind poesy perceive the truth, A water-sprite, Who sometimes, for man's dangerous delight, Puts on a human form and face, To wear them with a superhuman grace?

"When this poor Poet turns his bending back, (Ah me! Ah, well-a-day! Alas! Alack!) Say, shall you rise from out your grassy bed, With wreathed forget-me-nots about your head, And sing and play, And wile some wandering wight out of his way, To lead him with your witcheries astray? (Ah me! Alas! Alack! Ah, well-a-day!) Would it be safe for me That fateful form to see?" (Alas! Alack! Ah, well-a-day! Ah me!)

So far the Poet read his pleasing strain, Then it began to rain: He closed his book. "Farewell, fair Nymph!" he cried, as with a lingering look His homeward way he took; And nevermore that Poet saw that Brook.

The Brook passed several days in anxious expectation Of transformation Into a lovely nymph bedecked with flowers; And longed impatiently to prove those powers— Those dangerous powers—of witchery and wile, That should all mortal men mysteriously beguile; For life as running water lost its charm Before the exciting hope of doing so much harm. And yet the hope seemed vain; Despite the Poet's strain, Though the days came and went, and went and came, The seasons changed, the Brook remained the same.

The Brook was almost tired Of vainly hoping to become a Naiad; When on a certain Summer's day, Dame Nature came that way, Busy as usual, With great and small; Who, at the water-side Dipping her clever fingers in the tide, Out of the mud drew creeping things, And, smiling on them, gave them radiant wings. Now when the poor Brook murmured, "Mother dear!" Dame Nature bent to hear, And the sad stream poured all its woes into her sympathetic ear, Crying,—"Oh, bounteous Mother! Do not do more for one child than another; If of a dirty grub or two (Dressing them up in royal blue) You make so many shining Demoiselles,[3] Change me as well; Uplift me also from this narrow place, Where life runs on at such a petty pace; Give me a human form, dear Dame, and then See how I'll flit, and flash, and fascinate the race of men!"

[Footnote 3: The "Demoiselle" Dragon-fly, a well-known slender variety (Libellula), with body of brilliant blue.]

Then Mother Nature, who is wondrous wise, Did that deluded little Brook advise To be contented with its own fair face, And with a good and cheerful grace, Run, as of yore, on its appointed race, Safe both from giving and receiving harms; Outliving human lives, outlasting human charms. But good advice, however kind, Is thrown away upon a made-up mind, And this was all that babbling Brook would say— "Give me a human face and form, if only for a day!"

Then quoth Dame Nature:—"Oh, my foolish child! Ere I fulfil a wish so wild, Since I am kind and you are ignorant, This much I grant: You shall arise from out your grassy bed, And gathered to the waters overhead Shall thus and then Look down and see the world, and all the ways of men!" Scarce had the Dame Departed to the place from whence she came, When in that very hour, The sun burst forth with most amazing power. Dame Nature bade him blaze, and he obeyed; He drove the fainting flocks into the shade, He ripened all the flowers into seed, He dried the river, and he parched the mead; Then on the Brook he turned his burning eye, Which rose and left its narrow channel dry; And, climbing up by sunbeams to the sky, Became a snow-white cloud, which softly floated by.

It was a glorious Autumn day, And all the world with red and gold was gay; When, as this cloud athwart the heavens did pass, Lying below, it saw a Poet on the grass, The very Poet who had such a stir made, To prove the Brook was a fresh-water mermaid. And now, Holding his book above his corrugated brow— He read aloud, And thus apostrophized the passing cloud: "Oh, snowy-breasted Fair! Mysterious messenger of upper air! Can you be of those female forms so dread,[4] Who bear the souls of the heroic dead To where undying laurels crown the warrior's head? Or, as you smile and hover, Are you not rather some fond goddess of the skies who waits a mortal lover? And who, ah! who is he? —And what, oh, what!—your message to poor me?"— So far the Poet. Then he stopped: His book had dropped. But ere the delighted cloud could make reply, Dame Nature hurried by, And it put forth a wild beseeching cry— "Give me a human face and form!" Dame Nature frowned, and all the heavens grew black with storm.

[Footnote 4: The Walkyrie in Teutonic mythology, whose office it is to bear the souls of fallen heroes from the field of battle.]

But very soon, Upon a frosty winter's noon, The little cloud returned below, Falling in flakes of snow; Falling most softly on the floor most hard Of an old manor-house court-yard. And as it hastened to the earth again, The children sang behind the window-pane: "Old woman, up yonder, plucking your geese, Quickly pluck them, and quickly cease; Throw down the feathers, and when you have done, We shall have fun—we shall have fun." The snow had fallen, when with song and shout The girls and boys came out; Six sturdy little men and maids, Carrying heather-brooms, and wooden spades, Who swept and shovelled up the fallen snow, Which whimpered,—"Oh! oh! oh! Oh, Mother, most severe! Pity me lying here, I'm shaken all to pieces with that storm, Raise me and clothe me in a human form."

They swept up much, they shovelled up more, There never was such a snow-man before! They built him bravely with might and main, There never will be such a snow-man again! His legs were big, his body was bigger, They made him a most imposing figure; His eyes were large and as black as coal, For a cinder was placed in each round hole. And the sight of his teeth would have made yours ache, Being simply the teeth of an ancient rake. They smoothed his forehead, they patted his back, There wasn't a single unsightly crack; And when they had given the final pat, They crowned his head with the scare-crow's hat.

And so The Brook—the Cloud—the Snow, Got its own way after so many days, And did put on a human form and face. But whether The situation pleased it altogether; If it is nice To be a man of snow and ice; Whether it feels Painful, when one congeals; How this man felt When he began to melt; Whether he wore his human form and face With any extraordinary grace; If many mortals fell As victims to the spell; Or if, As he stood, stark and stiff, With a bare broomstick in his arms, And not a trace of transcendental charms, That man of snow Grew wise enough to know That the Brook's hopes were but a Poet's dream, And well content to be again a stream, On the first sunny day, Flowed quietly away; Or what the end was—You must ask the Poet, I don't know it.


Our home used to be in a hut in the dear old Camp, with lots of bands and trumpets and bugles and Dead Marches, and three times a day there was a gun, But now we live in View Villa at the top of the village, and it isn't nearly such fun. We never see any soldiers, except one day we saw a Volunteer, and we ran after him as hard as ever we could go, for we thought he looked rather brave; But there's only been one funeral since we came, an ugly black thing with no Dead March or Union Jack, and not even a firing party at the grave. There is a man in uniform to bring the letters, but he's nothing like our old Orderly, Brown; I told him, through the hedge, "Your facings are dirty, and you'd have to wear your belt if my father was at home," and oh, how he did frown! But things can't be expected to go right when Old Father's away, and he's gone to the war; Which is why we play at soldiers and fighting battles more than ever we did before. And I try to keep things together: every morning I have a parade of myself and Dick, To see that we are clean, and to drill him and do sword-exercise with poor Grandpapa's stick. Grandpapa's dead, so he doesn't want it now, and Dick's too young for a real tin sword like mine: He's so young he won't make up his mind whether he'll go into the Artillery or the Line. I want him to be a gunner, for his frock's dark blue, and Captain Powder gave us a wooden gun with an elastic that shoots quite a big ball. It's nonsense Dick's saying he'd like to be a Chaplain, for that's not being a soldier at all. Besides, he always wants to be Drum-Major when we've funerals, to stamp the stick and sing RUM—TUM—TUM— To the Dead March in Saul (that's the name of the tune, and you play it on a drum).

Mary is so good, she might easily be a Chaplain, but of course she can't be anything that wants man; She likes nursing her doll, but when we have battles she moves the lead soldiers about, and does what she can. She never grumbles about not being able to grow up into a General, though I should think it must be a great bore. I asked her what she would do if she were grown up into a woman, and belonged to some one who was wounded in the war,— She said she'd go out and nurse him: so I said, "But supposing you couldn't get him better, and he died; how would you behave?" And she said if she couldn't get a ship to bring him home in, she should stay out there and grow a garden, and make wreaths for his grave. Nurse says we oughtn't to have battles, now Father's gone to battle, but that's just the reason why! And I don't believe one bit what she said about its making Mother cry. Only she does like us to put away our toys on Sunday, so we can't have the soldiers or the gun; But yesterday Dick said, "I was thinking in church, and I've thought of a game about soldiers, and it's a perfectly Sunday one; It's a Church Parade: you'll have to be a lot of officers and men, Mary'll do for a few wives and families, and I'll be Chaplain to the Forces and pray for everyone at the war." So he put his nightgown over his knickerbocker suit, and knelt on the Ashantee stool, and Mary and I knelt on the floor. I think it was rather nice of Dick, for he said what put it into his head Was thinking they mightn't have much time for their prayers on active service, and we ought to say them instead. I should have liked to parade the lead soldiers, but I didn't, for Mother says, "What's the good of being a soldier's son if you can't do as you're bid?" But we thought there'd be no harm in letting the box be there if we kept on the lid. Dick couldn't pray out of the Prayer-book, because he's backward with being delicate, and he can't read; So he had to make a prayer out of his own head, and I think he did it very well indeed. He began, "GOD save the Queen, and the Army and the Navy, and the Irregular Forces and the Volunteers! Especially Old Father (he went out with the first draft, and he's a Captain in the Royal Engineers"). But I said, "I don't think 'GOD save the Queen' is a proper prayer, I think it's only a sort of three cheers." So he said, "GOD bless the Generals, and the Colonels, and the Majors, and the Captains, and the Lieutenants, and the Sub-lieutenants, and the Quartermasters, and the non-commissioned officers, and the men; And the bands, and the colours, and the guns, and the horses and the wagons, and the gun-carriage they use for the funerals; and please I should like them all to come home safe again. (Don't, Mary! I haven't finished; it isn't time for you to say Amen.) I haven't prayed for the Chaplains, or the Doctors who help the poor men left groaning on the ground when the victories are won; And I want to pray particularly for the very poor ones who die of fever and miss all the fighting and fun. GOD bless the good soldiers, like Old Father, and Captain Powder, and the men with good-conduct medals; and please let the naughty ones all be forgiven; And if the black men kill our men, send down white angels to take their poor dear souls to Heaven! Now you may both say Amen, and I shall give out hymn four hundred and thirty-seven." There are eight verses and eight Alleluias, and we can't sing very well, but we did our best, Only Mary would cry in the verse about "Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest!" But we're both very glad Dick has found out a Sunday game about fighting, for we never had one before; And now we can play at soldiers every day till Old Father comes home from the war.

1  2     Next Part
Home - Random Browse