Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > British
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. VI–IX: British
 
My Partner
By Winthrop Mackworth Praed (1802–1839)
 
AT Cheltenham, where one drinks one’s fill
  Of folly and cold water,
I danced, last year, my first quadrille
  With old Sir Geoffrey’s daughter.
Her cheek with summer’s rose might vie,        5
  When summer’s rose is newest;
Her eyes were blue as autumn’s sky,
  When autumn’s sky is bluest;
And well my heart might deem her one
  Of life’s most precious flowers,        10
For half her thoughts were of its sun,
  And half were of its showers.
 
I spoke of novels: “Vivian Gray”
  Was positively charming,
And “Almack’s” infinitely gay,        15
  And “Frankenstein” alarming;
I said “De Vere” was chastely told,
  Thought well of “Herbert Lacy,”
Called Mr. Banim’s sketches “bold,”
  And Lady Morgan’s “racy”;        20
I vowed the last new thing of Hook’s
  Was vastly entertaining;
And Laura said, “I dote on books,
  Because it’s always raining!”
 
I talked of music’s gorgeous fane,        25
  I raved about Rossini,
Hoped Ronzo would come back again,
  And criticised Paccini;
I wished the chorus singers dumb,
  The trumpets more pacific,        30
And eulogised Brocard’s aplomb
  And voted Paul “terrific.”
What cared she for Medea’s pride
  Or Desdemona’s sorrow?
“Alas!” my beauteous listener sighed,        35
  “We must have storms to-morrow!”
 
I told her tales of other lands;
  Of ever-boiling fountains,
Of poisonous lakes, and barren sands,
  Vast forests, trackless mountains;        40
I painted bright Italian skies,
  I lauded Persian roses,
Coined similes for Spanish eyes,
  And jests for Indian noses;
I laughed at Lisbon’s love of mass,        45
  And Vienna’s dread of treason;
And Laura asked me where the glass
  Stood at Madrid last season.
 
I broached whate’er had gone its rounds,
  The week before, of scandal;        50
What made Sir Luke lay down his hounds
  And Jane take up her Handel;
Why Julia walked upon the heath,
  With the pale moon above her;
Where Flora lost her false front teeth,        55
  And Anna her false lover;
How Lord de B. and Mrs. L.
  Had crossed the sea together;
My shuddering partner cried, “Oh, Lord!
  How could they, in such weather?”        60
 
Was she a blue? I put my trust
  In strata, petals, gases;
A boudoir pedant? I discussed
  The toga and the fasces;
A Cockney muse? I mouthed a deal        65
  Of folly from Endymion;
A saint? I praised the pious zeal
  Of Messrs. Way and Simeon;
A politician? It was vain
  To quote the morning paper.        70
The horrid phantoms come again:
  Rain, hail, and snow, and vapour.
 
Flat flattery was my only chance,
  I acted deep devotion,
Found magic in her every glance,        75
  Grace in her every motion;
I wasted all a stripling’s lore,
  Prayer, passion, folly, feeling;
And wildly looked upon the floor,
  And wildly on the ceiling;        80
I envied gloves upon her arm,
  And shawls upon her shoulder;
And when my worship was most warm,
  She “never found it colder.”
 
I don’t object to wealth or land;        85
  And she will have the giving
Of an extremely pretty hand,
  Some thousands, and a living.
She makes silk purses, broiders stools,
  Sings sweetly, dances finely,        90
Paints screens, subscribes to Sunday-schools,
  And sits a horse divinely.
But to be linked for life to her!
  The desperate man who tried it,
Might marry a barometer,        95
  And hang himself beside it!
 
 
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