The Emperor's Rout
Author: Unknown
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[Frontispiece: M. Gauci delt. Printed by C. Motte 23 Leicester Sqre.]







As the Emperor Moth[1] sat one evening in May, Fanned by numberless wings in the moon's silver ray, While around him the zephyrs breathed sweetest perfume, Thus he spoke to his dwarf with the Ragged white plume:[2] "That vain Butterfly's Ball, I hear, was most splendid, And, as the world says, very fully attended, Though she never asked us, but assigned as a cause, We were all much too heavy to gallope and waltz. What impertinence this, want of grace to ascribe To the Lord of the whole Lepidopterous tribe; I too'll give a ball, and such folks to chastise, I'll not be at home to these pert butterflies. Bid the Empress[3] come hither, and we'll talk about What arrangements to make for a capital rout."

The Empress obeyed her lord's summons with speed, And proceeded her visiting tablets to read, That those of her subjects, whose homage was booked In that coveted record, might not be o'erlooked. Then the Bufftip[4] began to write each moth a card, Having one for herself just by way of reward. "First ask," says the Emperor, "the Glory of Kent,[5] On having much beauty my mind is quite bent; The Belle, too, of Brixton,[6] the Marvel du Jour,[7] And the Peach-blossom[8] moth you'll invite, I am sure; The Sphinx[9] too, shall come, who makes riddles so well, And the Gipsey[10] be ready our fortunes to tell; Mother Shipton[11] shall chap'rone the lovely Black I,[12] And those awkward Greek girls, Lambda,[13] Gamma,[14] and Chi;[15] Hebrew Character,[16] too, who for routs has a passion; And I'll ask Mrs. Gothic,[17] though she's out of fashion, For I love my old friends, and had rather that they Should partake of our feast, than the idle and gay, Who flutter about without object or reason, Just live for an hour, and last but a season." How little, alas! do great moths bear in mind, That their tenure of life is of just the same kind. "You're right," said the Empress, "and truly 'twere shabby, T'exclude from our party poor old Mrs. Tabby,[18] And the Rustics[19] I'll ask, though not one has a gown In which to appear, save of black, grey, or brown; And some of them go, too, so feathered and flounced, That the Coxcomb[20] called Prominent, on them pronounced A sentence of censure, quite just, but so tart, That I felt, when I heard it, quite cut to the heart. But now to proceed, Sire, the Leopard[21] I vote, Be razed from our list, with that ugly old Goat,[22] Who in youth made such terrible use of his jaws, That I dread, I confess, e'en the sight of his claws; And as to his muscles, 'tis said that when counted, To four thousand and just forty-one they amounted; Of Musk too, I'm told, he sheds such perfume, That wherever he goes, he fills the whole room. Exclude him we will, with the old Dromedary,[23] The Elephant[24] cunning, and Fox[25] too, so wary, That though I don't know it for certain, I'm told They cheat at Ecarte, like Hermes of old.

The Ghost[26] and Death's head,[27] and that terrible host, Would but scare all the guests"—Here the Emperor lost, For a moment, his patience, and cried to his spouse, "If thus you proceed, ma'am, my anger you'll rouse. Like th' Egyptians of old, I'll have at my feast A figure of death, or his cross-bones at least, To remind all our guests of the limited span That to moths is allotted, as well as to man, And how e'en in the midst of enjoyment's gay hour, We are still in death's stern and inflexible power. So let them have cards, and I'll go and prepare For receiving our friends, the best possible fare." The Monarch then went with the Eyed Hawk,[28] his scout, To search for a spot fit for giving his rout; A green ring he found, the work of a fairy, And thinking it looked both commodious and airy, He called to him Brimstone[29] to measure the ground, For another Geometra[30] could not be found; Of this workman he knew the correctness full well, What he wrought was as nice as if done by a spell. The spot was judged proper, and erected in haste Were some well fashioned rooms, which displayed his good taste. Carpet Moths[31] were appointed to stencil the floor, The Clothes Moths[32] with gossamer covered the door; Mahogany[33] and Wainscot[34] were neither deficient In offering their aid, which proved most efficient, While Veneers,[35] both rosy and yellow, were able T'improve, by their help, the decayed supper table. For the crockery, China Mark[36] promised to strive, And Galleria[37] offered to steal from a hive, Profusion of honey; Pinguinalis[38] brought butter, And with wax Cereana[39] came all in a flutter. These presents the Emperor gladly accepted, Save Galleria's theft, which with scorn was rejected, So little do moths of great minds patronise The base who by fraud or extortion would rise. In the mean time the Empress her Swifts[40] had sent out To deliver the cards for this elegant rout. Puss[41] sent an excuse, with the Kitten[42] engaged, And the Eggar,[43] poor lady, was highly enraged That her numerous offspring requiring her care, Prevented her joining a party so rare. The Burnets,[44] Brown Pinioned,[45] the Dingy Brocades,[46] The Black Raven Feather,[47] and sweet Angle Shades,[48] Had promised that day with the Tussock[49] to dine, A lady of fashion, whose hour was nine; But when they received their dread sovereign's command, They yielded to custom's imperious demand, For moths with us mortals in this do agree, That all parties must bow to a monarch's decree. Lady Lappet[50] being ill, the Poplar Lutestring[51] The two Misses Nonpareil[52] promised to bring; And the Spectacle Moth,[53] too near sighted to go, Sent his ward the Bright Eye,[54] with the Flame Furbelow,[55] Whose young lover, the beautiful, brave Unicorn,[56] Had been shot in a duel with the Red Striped Hawthorn.[57] Not quite fit to appear, the gallant Swallow Tail[58] At the doctors with anger continued to rail, He having been lamed by the awkward Bulrush,[59] To the serious alarm of the fair Maiden's Blush.[60] The day now arrived, and at nine of the night, The glow-worm being hired the highways to light, The guests 'gan to assemble, and each was announced By the Herald,[61] who loudly their names all pronounced. The Ermine,[62] a lady of noble degree, Introduced a long train of her large family; Some in Muslin,[63] some Satin,[64] were chastely arrayed, While the Emerald,[65] the Pearl,[66] and the Mocha[67] displayed Their jewels so costly, that poor Burnished Brass[68] Unnoticed was suffered the evening to pass. From the banks of the Niger the Blackamoor[69] brought A fat Moor,[70] who presented a Tyger[71] just caught; An old Gentlewoman[72] had promised to bring A musical Miss, who divinely could sing, But whose fair head, no larger than that of a Dot,[73] Was filled with the thought of a True Lover's Knot;[74] So she hem'd and she ha'd, then unblushingly told, How she caught as she came a most violent cold, And felt such oppression and pain in her throat, That she scarcely dared venture to utter a note; And thus with most Misses of human creation, How often their colds are but mere affectation. The dancing began, and soft music was heard, Provided, 'twas said, by the sweet Humming Bird.[75] Old Colonel Gold Spangle,[76] his dancing days past, Volunteered with good humour the dances to cast; To the forward Miss Portland[77] Captain Christian[78] he brought, Who, aided by Mars, the young lady had caught, For moths, like their betters, as I have been told, Are mightily taken with scarlet and gold. The Foresters[79] danced, arrayed all in green, With the Clear Wings,[80] whose beauty gave life to the scene; The Mouse,[81] quite enamoured, entreated in vain The hand of the lovely Pease Blossom[82] to gain, And the Satellite,[83] though he till now had sat still, Made up to the Seraph[84] to dance a quadrille. The Quakers,[85] who ne'er had been seen at a ball, With the Coronets[86] galloped around the great hall, And the sad Mourning Widow,[87] her weeds put away, To waltz with the lustrous Japan,[88] now quite gay; While the Magpie[89] obtained universal applause, By fluttering a hornpipe upon his hind claws. The Vapourer[90] came not, but he was no loss, For wherever he went he was stupid and cross; And his wife, an old dowdy, bereft of all wings, Was unfit to appear as th' associate of Kings; The Dagger[91] came armed, and looked all around, But his charmer, Miss Snout,[92] was no where to be found, For she had not been asked, and the Figure of Eight,[93] With his cousin, the Sprawler,[94] joined the party so late, That morn was forth peeping, and the dancing had done, When Spring Usher[95] announced the young beautiful Nun.[96] The Gnomana[97] now indexed the hour of four, The guests were assembled around the great door, Which the Lacqueys[98] threw open, and each in his rank Found a seat for himself, and they all ate and drank With a relish that would not disgrace the Guildhall, (To compare for a moment such great things with small,) Where London's Lord Mayor and his Aldermen deign To feast upon turtle, and tipple champagne. Old Drinker,[99] the butler, of wine served the best, And a Footman[100] was placed at the chair of each guest, In orange, in yellow, or black coats dressed out, For their liveries, 'twas said, were all made for the rout, The Emperor began mirth and glee to inspire, When a loud cry was heard, of "the chimney's on fire;" All started in fear from the table to learn If the house was in flames, or likely to burn; Each snatched up a candle, so left the room dark, And the moment was seized by the Chamomile Shark[101] To plunder the table. The Yorkshire Magpie[102] Strove also with his share of booty to fly, But was stopped by the Lacqueys, who then in a trice Demolished themselves every thing that was nice.

'Midst this glorious confusion a mischievous Pug[103] Contrived of the claret to empty each jug, But not unperceived by young Miss Exclamation,[104] Who by her loud cries caused immense consternation. Meanwhile came the Sweep,[105] with the Chimney Sweep's Boy,[106] And two other Assistants,[107] who ran to employ Every means they could think of to put out the flame, In which they succeeded, and found that the blame Belonged to the Housewife,[108] who had thrown in the fire Some grease, which occasioned the accident dire. The guests in a panic had now left alone The Emperor and Empress their ills to bemoan. Said the Empress, "My dear, let us never more try With the Butterflies' party so vainly to vie; For what with the heat, the fatigue, and the fright, I never before passed so trying a night; I would not again undergo the vexation Of such a soiree, for the wealth of a nation." "With you I agree," the sage Emperor replied, Who deemed it a lesson to cure them of pride; "And I trust that the thread of our lives will spin out, Ere we ever again attempt such a rout. Alas! we must own we were never designed To flit in the sunshine, or soar on the wind; Nature's changeless decree has allotted its share To each beast of the field, to each bird of the air, To each reptile that creeps, to each insect that flies; And who dares to rebel against nature but dies?"

[1] Saturnia pavonia minor. The caterpillars of these moths are of a beautiful green, with blue spots, and after living together for three weeks, they separate, and disperse themselves in all directions. The Chrysalis is covered with a strongly glutinous matter, which resists not only weather, but the perforation of other insects. The Pavonia Major is the largest of European moths, and, according to Latreille, a manufactory of silk from the cocoons has been established in Germany.

[2] Pterophorus pentadactylus. Large White Plume. By some called Ragged Robin. The moths of this genus have their wings divided, or formed of feathers united at the base. The chrysalis is black.

[3] Female of the Saturnia pavonia minor.

[4] Pygaera bucephala.

[5] Endromis versicolor.

[6] Noctua catana.

[7] Noctua aprilina.

[8] Noctua batis.

[9] The attitude of the caterpillars, resembling that of the Sphinx, has given this name to the tribe. The moths of the Sphinx have the peculiar power of erecting their wings, but even these cannot make them meet over the back as butterflies do. Their chief food is the potatoe plant.

[10] Liparis dispar.—The caterpillars of the Gipsey are very destructive to fruit trees, over which they wander during the day, but at night retire into a web like that of a spider. In 1731, they attacked and destroyed most of the oaks in France.

[11] Noctua mi.—Called Shipton, from the profile of an old woman which is marked on its upper wings.

[12] Noctua I niger.—The Roman character, I, is marked on the wings of this moth.

[13] [14] [15] Noctua lambda, Noctua gamma, Noctua chi.—So named from the spots on their wings resembling these Greek characters. The caterpillars of the Noctua gamma, in 1735, infected the whole of France, and devoured the productions of the kitchen gardens. The common people supposed them to be poisonous, and consequently the use of herbs in making soups was forbidden.

[16] Noctua gothica.

[17] Noctua typica.

[18] Pyralis genus.—The Tabby is often found in the tea chests in the East India warehouses, where it commits great ravages. It never is met with, however, in a chest that is not cracked, thereby proving its English origin.

[19] Noctua nigra.—Black rustic. Noctua laevis.—Grey rustic. Noctua obsoletissima.—Brown rustic. Noctua phaea.—Feathered rustic. Noctua tinea.—Flounced rustic.

[20] Notodonta camelina.—The singular name of Coxcomb Prominent, was given to this moth from the crest on its thorax, which resembles that of a cock. The specific name was bestowed in consequence of two lobes on its upper wings, which it raises when at rest.

[21] Zeuzera aesculus.—The caterpillar feeds on the wood of apple trees, but the moth is often found in great abundance in St. James's Park; sixty were gathered there in one morning, but the greater number had been half devoured by the birds.

[22] Cossus ligniperda.—The caterpillar lives in the interior of trees, and has, according to Lyonet, 4041 muscles. It is three years before the insect attains its perfect state. The caterpillar emits a smell much resembling that of musk, and Ray and Linnaeus both supposed it to be the Cossus mentioned by Pliny, as fattened with flour by the Roman epicures for their tables. Later writers have, however, for many reasons, ascribed this to the larva of the stag beetle.

[23] Notodonta dromedarius.—This Notodonta is called Dromedary, from having two crests, similar to humps, on its thorax.

[24] Sphinx elpenor.—The caterpillars of the Elephant feed on the plant called Ladies' Bedstraw, (Galium palustre), from which they are often shaken by the wind into the water. When this happens, they dexterously turn themselves on their backs, make head and tail meet, and float in this posture till they can contrive to save themselves by clinging to some part of the plant. They possess the power of drawing the head and three first joints within the body at pleasure. The moth flies very late at night, and is rarely caught.

[25] Lasiocampa rubi.—The Fox moth is chiefly found on heaths and commons, and lives in the caterpillar state all the winter.

[26] Hepialus humuli.—The male moth is of a beautiful and brilliant white, but the female is yellow. It is fond of feeding on the roots of grass, and from having been often found in church-yards, the tradition has arisen that it inhabits those spots only. The caterpillar is very destructive to hops, by devouring the roots.

[27] Sphinx atropos.—This is called the Death's Head moth from the resemblance of the spot on its thorax to a human skull. It is the largest of the Sphinx tribe, and is vulgarly regarded as the messenger of pestilence and death. When touched it utters a plaintive cry, like that of a bat or mouse. Reaumur says, that a whole convent in France was thrown into consternation, by one of these moths flying into the dormitory. It frequently robs hives, and Huber states, that its cry renders the bees motionless. It breaks from its chrysalis between four and seven in the afternoon, as the Hawk moth of the Lime always appears at noon, and that of the Evening Primrose at sunrise.

[28] Sphinx cellata.—The Eyed-hawk moth flies very swiftly by night, and its caterpillar is very beautiful.

[29] Geometra crataegaria.—The Brimstone lays eggs twice in the same year.

[30] This genus is so called from the peculiar manner in which the caterpillar moves; it brings the feet of both extremities close together, and the intermediate part of the body rises like an arch, giving it the appearance of measuring the distance it performs. It is said to possess great muscular powers, for it will attach its posterior feet to the twig of a tree, and erect the rest of its body in a vertical position for hours without moving.

[31] Geometra subtristata.—&c. &c.

[32] Tinea genus.—These are the moths which cause so much destruction to furs, and other articles of clothing. They lay their eggs on the substances which serve them for food. The most effectual method of keeping them away is to pack the materials in a well-closed tin box, and enclose with them a tallow candle.

[33] Noctua tetra.

[34] Leucania.—Genus of Stephens.

[35] Crambus carnea.—Rosy veneer. Crambus arborum.—Yellow satin veneer. They receive their name from the streaks on their wings. They are chiefly found on grasses in flower, and always settled with their heads downwards.

[36] Botys genus.—Called China mark, from the resemblance of the spots on the wings to those on old China.

[37] Galleria alvearia.—The caterpillar lives on honey.

[38] Aglossa pinguinalis.—The food of the caterpillar consists of fat substances, such as butter or lard, in which it will suffer itself to be completely enveloped without injury. It is sometimes said to get into the human stomach, when it causes very dangerous symptoms.

[39] Galleria cereana.—The caterpillar feeds on wax, but for want of this food will eat paper, wafers, &c.

[40] Hepialus genus.—The gold Swift sometimes moves slowly through the air, a few feet from the ground, where it poises itself; at others, vacillates like the pendulum of a clock, and again altering its motion, darts about with great rapidity.

[41] Cerura vinula.—The caterpillar of the Puss has the power of stretching out, or pulling back its head at will, according to its apprehension of danger. Its hinder extremity never touches the ground, but is furnished with two tubes, through which the insect ejects a thin liquor at its pursuers. When near the change into the pupa state, however, the tubes dry up, and it loses this faculty. More male than female moths are to be found, which is contrary to the general rule.

[42] Cerura furcula.—The kitten.

[43] Lasiocampa quercus.—The Eggar has been known to remain seven years in the chrysalis state.

[44] Zygaena genus.

[45] Noctua oblonga.

[46] Noctua obscura.

[47] Porrectaria grandipennis.

[48] Noctua meticulosa.—The chrysalis of the Angle-shades is of a deep red colour, with two sharp points at the tail. The caterpillar is of a fine transparent green.

[49] Laria genus.—The Tussock feeds on white thorn, and is the hop-dog of the hop-gatherers in Kent.

[50] Gastropacha quercifolia.—The caterpillar of this moth also lives through the winter, a fact recently discovered by Mr. Samouelle, from whose obliging communications many of these notes have been derived.

[51] Noctua flavicornis.

[52] Noctua fraxini.—The Nonpareils are very scarce in England, are very large moths, and have blue under-wings.

[53] Noctua triplacea.—Named Spectacle moth, from an appearance like spectacles on its thorax.

[54] Noctua conigera.—Brown line. Bright eye.

[55] Noctua furca.

[56] Sphinx convolvuli.—The unicorn caterpillar is difficult to find, from its habit of hiding itself in the ground, and only appearing on the surface in the evening to feed on the lesser bindweed, at which time it is frequently sought by collectors with a candle and lanthorn. The Pupa has an enormous rostrum, longer than the insect, and very thick, probably to contain the proboscis.

[57] Tinea bistriga.—These are beautiful minute insects, and are found on the white thorn in July.

[58] Geometra sambucaria.—This is found in lanes, and is remarkable for the elegance of its flight.

[59] Noctua typhae.—The caterpillar feeds on the pith of the bulrush.

[60] Geometra punctaria.—The Maiden's Blush flies in the shady parts of woods at sunset.

[61] Noctua libatrix.

[62] Erminea padi.—This insect destroys the white thorn hedges in the neighbourhood of London. About three years back, a dress was woven by the caterpillars for the Queen of Bavaria. A model was made of some stiff material, and the caterpillars placed on it; they covered it with their web, and thus produced a garment without a seam.

[63] Arctia mendica.

[64] Arctia salicis.—The Satin moth not only itself wears the appearance of this substance, but covers its eggs with a web which has the same resemblance.

[65] Geometra papilio naria.—[66] Noctua perla.—[67] Geometra omicromaria.—These moths in colour resemble the stones, &c., after which they are named. The Emerald becomes white with keeping, and the others turn to a dirty yellow.

[68] Noctua chrysitis.—The upper wings of the moth are of a light brown, and streaked across with two bands resembling polished brass.

[69] Noctua Ethiops.—So named from its dark appearance.

[70] Noctua Maura.—The Moor has a broad body, and is constantly found under the arches of Westminster Bridge.

[71] Arctia caja.—The caterpillar mixes its own hair with its web. It is found in gardens, feeds on every thing, and changes its skin ten times.

[72] Noctua brassica.—The caterpillar is very destructive to cabbages.

[73] Noctua persicaria.—This moth is remarkable for a white spot on its wing, and the caterpillar feeds on the flower from which it is named.

[74] Noctua erica.—The appearance of a true lover's knot is found on its upper wings.

[75] Macroglossum stellatarum.—It makes a humming noise with the vibration of its wings. It is found from March till September, hovering over geraniums, and constantly appears at two o'clock in the afternoon.

[76] Noctua bractea.—This is a rare insect, and receives its name from the large spot in each upper wing, resembling burnished gold.

[77] Noctua precox.—This moth was named after the Duchess of Portland, who first found it.

[78] Tortrix genus.—The genus receives its name from the faculty possessed by the caterpillar, of rolling or twisting the leaves of the plants it inhabits, into a tubular form. The Christian, or Christianern, is found in the chalk pits of Kent, resting on cinque-foil. The upper wings are of a bright yellow, streaked with scarlet.

[79] Ino statices.—The body and wings are of a beautiful metallic green, and they chiefly inhabit meadows.

[80] AEgeria genus.—They receive their name from the transparency of their wings. They are principally found on the wood of the currant tree.

[81] Noctua tragopogonus.—Called Mouse from its colour.

[82] Noctua delphinii.—The Pease blossom is a very beautiful, but rare moth. It feeds on the wild larkspur, and lies in the pupa state from August till the June following.

[83] Noctua satellitia.—The caterpillars of the Satellite are great enemies to white thorn, currant, and gooseberry bushes, and also to other caterpillars.

[84] Geometra hexapterata.—The Seraph, or Seraphim, has two little processes like the rudiments of another pair of wings, whence its specific name.

[85] Noctua cerasi, &c.—These moths are remarkably neat in appearance.

[86] Noctua ligustri.—The Coronets are so called from their crested thorax.

[87] Geometra luctuaria.

[88] Adela genus.—The Japan moths are distinguished by the length of their antennae, which several times exceed the length of their bodies.

[89] Abraxas grossulariata.—The destructive caterpillar of this moth lives in gardens, through the winter, and feeds on the buds as they begin to open. When about to change to the chrysalis state, they suspend themselves by the tail.

[90] Bombyx antiqua.—The female moth is destitute of wings, and the male is constantly seen, slowly fluttering through the streets of London.

[91] Noctua psi.—The Dagger is produced from a light green egg, and is named from the mark on its wings.

[92] Herminia rostralis.—Called Snout, from the form of the palpi, which project over the head.

[93] Bombyx caeruleocephala.—It owes its English name to the figure of eight, marked in white on its brown wings.

[94] Bombyx cassinea.—The Sprawler is found on palings, closely adhering to the wood, and rests with its anterior feet widely spread out.

[95] Geometra leucophearia.—This is named Spring Usher from making its appearance in February; it is a favourite food with insectivorous birds.

[96] Noctua aprica.

[97] Tortrix gnomana.—Dial moth. It flies from side to side like the pendulum of a clock.

[98] Lasiocampa neustria, &c.—The caterpillars live in a common web, and are striped with white, blue, and red, whence, by the French naturalists, they are called livree. They are polyphagus, i. e. they eat every thing. They lay their eggs in close, compact rings, round the twigs of trees.

[99] Odenensis potatoria.—The caterpillar of this moth (according to Godart) after drinking, lifts up its head like a hen, whence it receives its name.

[100] Lithosia aurantia (orange)—Lithosia luterella (yellow) Lithosia rubricollis (black)—Footman.

[101] Noctua chamomilla.—The moth attaches itself close to the edges of wood, as near its own colour as possible.

[102] Abraxas ulmaria.—Found abundantly in Yorkshire.

[103] Geometra genus.

[104] Noctua exclamationis.

[105] Geometra chaerophyllata.—All the moths called Chimney-sweeps are black, but the Chimney-sweep's boy is smaller than the others, and easily distinguished by the glossiness of its wings.

[106] Fumaria plumistra.

[107] Geometra euphorbiata, &c.

[108] Geometra thymiaria.—All collectors will recognise this as a very probable accident from the quantity of grease natural to moths, and which often destroys their finest specimens. The localities of these and other insects, with more particulars, may be found ably described in Mr. Samouelle's valuable work on Entomology.



Transcriber's Notes: There is no indication from the original printing that the poem was broken into stanzas, unless every stanza happened to finish at the end of a page. The three plates in the body of the book were inserted close to the lines they illustrate; to minimise disruption to the flow of the poem these have here been moved to a sentence break near the illustrated lines. The plates in the body of the book all carry the same attribution as the frontispiece: M. Gauci delt. Printed by C. Motte 23 Leicester Sqre.

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