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- Playful Poems - 30/35 -


Supposing you're delicate-minded and nice, To have the medical man of your choice, Instead of the one with the strongest voice - Who comes and asks you, how's your liver, And where you ache, and whether you shiver, And as to your nerves, so apt to quiver, As if he was hailing a boat on the river! And then, with a shout, like Pat in a riot, Tells you to keep yourself perfectly quiet!

"Or a tradesman comes--as tradesmen will - Short and crusty about his bill; Of patience, indeed, a perfect scorner, And because you're deaf and unable to pay, Shouts whatever he has to say, In a vulgar voice, that goes over the way, Down the street and round the corner! Come--speak your mind--it's 'No' or 'Yes.'" ("I've half a mind," said Dame Eleanor S.)

"Try it again--no harm in trying, Of course you hear me, as easy as lying; No pain at all, like a surgical trick, To make you squall, and struggle, and kick, Like Juno, or Rose, Whose ear undergoes Such horrid tugs at membrane and gristle, For being as deaf as yourself to a whistle!

"You may go to surgical chaps if you choose, Who will blow up your tubes like copper flues, Or cut your tonsils right away, As you'd shell out your almonds for Christmas Day; And after all a matter of doubt, Whether you ever would hear the shout Of the little blackguards that bawl about, 'There you go with your tonsils out!' Why I knew a deaf Welshman, who came from Glamorgan On purpose to try a surgical spell, And paid a guinea, and might as well Have called a monkey into his organ! For the Aurist only took a mug, And poured in his ear some acoustical drug, That, instead of curing, deafened him rather, As Hamlet's uncle served Hamlet's father! That's the way with your surgical gentry! And happy your luck If you don't get stuck Through your liver and lights at a royal entry, Because you never answered the sentry!

"Try it again, dear madam, try it! Many would sell their beds to buy it. I warrant you often wake up in the night, Ready to shake to a jelly with fright, And up you must get to strike a light, And down you go, in you know what, Whether the weather is chilly or hot, - That's the way a cold is got, - To see if you heard a noise or not.

"Why, bless you, a woman with organs like yours Is hardly safe to step out of doors! Just fancy a horse that comes full pelt, But as quiet as if he was shod with felt, Till he rushes against you with all his force, And then I needn't describe of course, While he kicks you about without remorse, How awkward it is to be groomed by a horse! Or a bullock comes, as mad as King Lear, And you never dream that the brute is near, Till he pokes his horn right into your ear, Whether you like the thing or lump it, - And all for want of buying a trumpet!

"I'm not a female to fret and vex, But if I belonged to the sensitive sex, Exposed to all sorts of indelicate sounds, I wouldn't be deaf for a thousand pounds. Lord! only think of chucking a copper To Jack or Bob with a timber limb, Who looks as if he was singing a hymn, Instead of a song that's very improper! Or just suppose in a public place You see a great fellow a-pulling a face, With his staring eyes and his mouth like an O, - And how is a poor deaf lady to know, - The lower orders are up to such games - If he's calling 'Green Peas,' or calling her names?" ("They're tenpence a peck!" said the deafest of dames.)

"'Tis strange what very strong advising, By word of mouth, or advertising, By chalking on wall, or placarding on vans, With fifty other different plans, The very high pressure, in fact, of pressing, It needs to persuade one to purchase a blessing! Whether the soothing American Syrup, A Safety Hat, or a Safety Stirrup, - Infallible Pills for the human frame, Or Rowland's O-don't-O (an ominous name)! A Doudney's suit which the shape so hits That it beats all others into FITS; A Mechi's razor for beards unshorn, Or a Ghost-of-a-Whisper-Catching Horn!

"Try it again, ma'am, only try!" Was still the voluble Pedlar's cry; "It's a great privation, there's no dispute, To live like the dumb unsociable brute, And to hear no more of the pro and con, And how Society's going on, Than Mumbo Jumbo or Prester John, And all for want of this sine qua non; Whereas, with a horn that never offends, You may join the genteelest party that is, And enjoy all the scandal, and gossip, and quiz, And be certain to hear of your absent friends; - Not that elegant ladies, in fact, In genteel society ever detract, Or lend a brush when a friend is blacked, - At least as a mere malicious act, - But only talk scandal for fear some fool Should think they were bred at CHARITY school. Or, maybe, you like a little flirtation, Which even the most Don Juanish rake Would surely object to undertake At the same high pitch as an altercation. It's not for me, of course, to judge How much a deaf lady ought to begrudge; But half-a-guinea seems no great matter - Letting alone more rational patter - Only to hear a parrot chatter: Not to mention that feathered wit, The starling, who speaks when his tongue is slit; The pies and jays that utter words, And other Dicky Gossips of birds, That talk with as much good sense and decorum As many Beaks who belong to the Quorum.

"Try it--buy it--say ten and six, The lowest price a miser could fix: I don't pretend with horns of mine, Like some in the advertising line, To 'MAGNIFY SOUNDS' on such marvellous scales, That the sounds of a cod seem as big as a whale's; But popular rumours, right or wrong, - Charity sermons, short or long, - Lecture, speech, concerto, or song, All noises and voices, feeble or strong, From the hum of a gnat to the clash of a gong, This tube will deliver distinct and clear; Or, supposing by chance You wish to dance, Why it's putting a Horn-pipe into your ear! Try it--buy it! Buy it--try it! The last New Patent, and nothing comes nigh it, For guiding sounds to their proper tunnel: Only try till the end of June, And if you and the trumpet are out of tune I'll turn it gratis into a funnel!" In short, the pedlar so beset her, - Lord Bacon couldn't have gammoned her better, - With flatteries plump and indirect, And plied his tongue with such effect, - A tongue that could almost have buttered a crumpet: The deaf old woman bought the Trumpet.

. . . . . . . . . .

The pedlar was gone. With the horn's assistance, She heard his steps die away in the distance; And then she heard the tick of the clock, The purring of puss, and the snoring of Shock; And she purposely dropped a pin that was little, And heard it fall as plain as a skittle!

'Twas a wonderful horn, to be but just! Nor meant to gather dust, must, and rust; So in half a jiffy, or less than that, In her scarlet cloak and her steeple-hat, Like old Dame Trot, but without her cat, The gossip was hunting all Tringham thorough, As if she meant to canvass the borough, Trumpet in hand, or up to the cavity; - And, sure, had the horn been one of those The wild rhinoceros wears on his nose, It couldn't have ripped up more depravity!

Depravity! mercy shield her ears! 'Twas plain enough that her village peers In the ways of vice were no raw beginners; For whenever she raised the tube to her drum Such sounds were transmitted as only come From the very Brass Band of human sinners! Ribald jest and blasphemous curse (Bunyan never vented worse), With all those weeds, not flowers, of speech


Playful Poems - 30/35

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