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Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 130.djvu/583

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THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF GIPSIES.

gidius trampling on the corpses of John Doe and Richard Roe respectively. That itself is humorous enough, but the rhapsody on "J. S." is still more brilliant, and one of the most perfect parodies in our language: —

DEDICATION TO J. S.

When waters are rent with commotion
Of storms, or with sunlight made whole,
The river still pours to the ocean
The stream of its effluent soul;
You, too, from all lips of all living
Of worship disthroned and discrowned,
Shall know by these gifts of my giving
That faith is yet found;

By the sight of my song-flight of cases
That beats on wings woven of rhyme
Names set for a sign in high places
By sentence of men of old time;
From all counties they meet and they mingle,
Dead suitors whom Westminster saw;
They are many, but your name is single,
Pure flower of pure law.

When bounty of grantors was gracious
To enfeoff you in fee and in tail,
The bounds of your lands were made spacious
With lordship from Sale unto Dale;
Trusts had you and services loyal,
Lips sovereign for ending of strife,
And the name of the world's names most royal
For light of your life.

Ah desire that was urgent to Rome ward
And feet that were swifter than fate's,
And the noise of the speed of them homeward
For mutation and fall of estates!
Ah the days when your riding to Dover
Was prayed for and precious as gold,
The journeys, the deeds that are over,
The praise of them told!

But the days of your reign are departed,
And our fathers that fed on your looks
Have begotten a folk feeble-hearted
That seek not your name in their books;
And against you is risen a new foeman
To storm with strange engines your home;
We wax pale at the name of him Roman,
His coming from Rome.

Even she, the immortal imperious,
Supreme one from days long ago,
Sends the spectre of Aulus Egerius
To hound the dead ghost of John Doe;
By the name of Numerius Negidius
Your brethren are slain without sword;
Is it so, that she, too, is perfidious,
The Rome you adored?

Yet I pour you this drink of my verses,
Of learning made lovely with lays,
Song bitter and sweet that rehearses
The deeds of your eminent days:
Yea, in these evil days from their reading
Some profit a student shall draw,
Though some points, are of obsolete pleading,
And some are not law.

Though the courts that were manifold dwindle
To divers divisions of one,
And no fire from your face may rekindle
The light of old learning undone,
We have suitors and briefs for our payment,
While, so long as a court shall hold pleas,
We talk moonshine with wigs for our raiment,
Not sinking the fees.

As regards parody, the least happy is, we think, the one on Tennyson, "Wigglesworth v. Dallison," though it would be hard to give in verse a better account of the lawsuit and the issue. Perhaps Mr. Tennyson's easy and yet full-mouthed style does not tickle the apprentice of Lincoln's Inn as quite so ludicrous in connection with a law-suit as the style of Swinburne, or Browning, or Rossetti's antique ballads, or even Clough. Certainly the case of "Scott v. Shepherd," as related by "any pleader to any student," in the best and brusquest possible Browningese, and the case of "Mostyn v. Fabrigas," a case of action for trespass for a wrong done in the island of Minorca by the governor of the said island, the action being brought in the English courts, where the governor supposed that no action would lie for a trespass done beyond the seas, the account of it being given in one of the happiest imitations of the old ballad literature which we have ever seen, are narrated with a skill in combining the study of law points with racy parody on poetic style, such as has hardly been surpassed. On the whole, we think the antique ballad style suits these cases better than any other poetic setting. There is a gossipiness in the old ballads which reminds one of the gossipiness of the old lawyers, and the two, skilfully connected, make what is more like a real and racy work of art than any of the more obvious parodies. The latter are satirical, but these old ballads on law cases have almost the effect of old-fashioned poems written in good faith; and the quaintness of effect so produced gives more pleasure than any parody.




From Temple Bar.

THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF GIPSIES.

One day, four hundred and fifty years ago, or thereabouts, there knocked at the gates of the city of Lüneburg, on the Elbe, as strange a rabble rout as had ever been