Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/Contrasts



Guests, at a nobleman’s board,
Drink to the bridal morrow;
While, at the breast of the lord
Rankles a barb of sorrow.

Hark to the pitiful wail!
“That woman, my lord, without;
They are taking her off to the goal.”
“Merely a beggar, no doubt.”

What a singular sighing sound!”
Says one of the great, at the table.
John, have you looked to the hound?
Make him a bed in the stable.”

Over those steps, again,
Entered a bride in the morn,
Follow’d by powder’d men,
Stff, and stately, and shorn.

Out of a prison den
Issued a wretch that morn,
Follow’d by brutal men,
Eager to see and scorn.

Quick! or we’ll miss the marriage,
Yonder, in Hanover Square.
They are off in a splendid carriage:
Faith, they’re a splendid pair!”

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A birth in a chamber great;
A birth in a hospital ward:
One in sorrow; one in state;
Both the sons of a lord.

Doctors around her bed;
Nurses and friends beside.
Lightly and softly tread—
This is a titled bride.

Cover that face in a shroud:
Mention her name no more;
Though she was silent and proud,
She was plebeian and poor.

The charity brat she bore,
Yes! let him grow up in the crowd,
Cringe at the nobleman’s door.
Cover her face with the shroud:
Mention her name no more!

Send the young heir to college,
To swim with the wealthy tide;
Probing the depths of knowledge,
Skimming the shoals of pride.

It may be his natural brother
Will hold his horse for a crust;
And neither can tell the other
Their kinship in common dust.

J. F. F.