Verse > Anthologies > Fuess and Stearns, eds. > The Little Book of Society Verse
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Fuess and Stearns, comps.  The Little Book of Society Verse.  1922.
 
A Chapter of Froissart
By Austin Dobson
 
(Grandpapa Loquitur)

YOU don’t know Froissart now, young folks.
  This age, I think, prefers recitals
Of high-spiced crime, with “slang” for jokes,
        And startling titles.
 
But, in my time, when still some few        5
  Loved “old Montaigne,” and praised Pope’s Homer
(Nay, thought to style him “poet” too,
        Were scarce misnomer),
 
Sir John was less ignored. Indeed,
  I can recall how Some-one present        10
(Who spoils her grandson, Frank!) would read
        And find him pleasant;
 
For,—by this copy,—hangs a Tale.
  Long since, in an old house in Surrey,
Where men knew more of “morning ale”        15
        Than “Lindley Murray,”
 
In a dim-lighted, whip-hung hall,
  ’Neath Hogarth’s “Midnight Conversation,”
It stood; and oft ’twixt spring and fall,
        With fond elation,        20
 
I turned the old brown leaves. For there
  All through one hopeful happy summer,
At such a page (I well knew where),
        Some secret comer,
 
Whom I can picture, ’Trix, like you        25
  (Though scarcely such a colt unbroken),
Would sometimes place for private view
        A certain token;—
 
A rose-leaf meaning “Garden Wall,”
  An ivy leaf for “Orchard corner,”        30
A thorn to say “Don’t come at all,”—
        Unwelcome warner!—
 
Not that, in truth, our friends gainsaid;
  But then Romance required dissembling,
(Ann Radcliffe taught us that!) which bred        35
        Some genuine trembling;
 
Though, as a rule, all used to end
  In such kind confidential parley
As may to you kind Fortune send,
        You long-legged Charlie,        40
 
When your time comes. How years slip on!
  We had our crosses like our betters;
Fate sometimes looked askance upon
        Those floral letters;
 
And once, for three long days disdained,        45
  The dust upon the folio settled;
For some-one, in the right, was pained,
        And some-one nettled,
 
That sure was in the wrong, but spake
  Of fixed intent and purpose stony        50
To serve King George, enlist and make
        Minced-meat of “Boney,”
 
Who yet survived—ten years at least.
  And so, when she I mean came hither,
One day that need for letters ceased,        55
        She brought this with her!
 
Here is the leaf-stained chapter:—How
  The English King laid Siege to Calais;
I think Gran. knows it even now,—
        Go ask her, Alice.        60
 
 
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