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- Nothing to Eat - 6/7 -


The 'outside barbarians,' I freely confess, Who ogle our faces and ogle our dress, Who spit where we walk as dirty a puddle As bipeds can make when their brains are 'a muddle,' Do not prove the inside is as dirty as they are, Or else the gods help all the ladies who stay there.

Why any prefer in a hotel to stay, Instead of a house of their choosing to own, Is just to avoid all the trouble, they say, That servants to give us are certainly prone, I'm sure if a tyranny more terrible prevails, In Austria or other despotic domain, My memory where most certainly fails, That servants and milliners over us gain, Just here in New York, and the more is the pity, Where Wood is the Mogul that governs the city.

Mrs. Merdle, having "Nibbled a Little" for two Hours at Dinner, retireth from the Table unsatisfied.

"Impatient--oh yes--just the way with you men!

I never have time to half finish my eating Ere Merdle is done; such a fidget is then, He'd starve me I think rather 'n miss of a meeting Where brokers preside o'er the fate of the stocks, As Pales presided o'er shepherds and flocks.

Now while you are smoking--what nonsense and folly-- I'll go to my room.--don't say No, for I must-- Put on a new dress, with assistance of Molly, And then with a little strong tea and a crust, My strength I may hope for a walk will be able As far as the gate, and a very short ride, To give me a relish again for the table-- What else do we live for in this world beside?"

The Poet Moralizeth--He Discourseth to those who Gorge and Complain.

Oh! Kitty Malone--Mrs. Merdle 'tis now-- Was there ever on earth than this, greater folly?

Still gorging, while groaning, and swearing a vow, That yours is a case of most sad melancholy.

With table that Croesus never had but might covet, You live but to eat and to eat 'cause you love it; And yet while you swallow great sirloins of meat Complain like a beggar of nothing to eat.

He Discourseth of the Wherefore of Bachelorism.

"What else do we live for in this world beside?"

Alas! 't is the question of ten times a day, That comes on the wind, or that floats on the tide, And creeps in the houses where men go to pray.

What else do we live for than get such a wife As this of the banker of our faint description?

What else is the end of our fashionable life From which men escape as they would from conscription?

What else is the reason so few natives marry, Than this, that extravagance leads on to ruin?

It is because few men are able to carry The load of this baking and roasting and stewing, Of buying and wasting extravagant meat, Where women are dying of "nothing to eat;" Where men in corruption so rapidly tending, In morals and wealth in bankruptcy ending.

That forging and stealing and breaches of trust, And ten thousand arts of the confidence game, And follies uncounted of men "on a bust," Are follies and crimes of this age to our shame, Till angels who witness the folly so wide Extended from palace to farm-house and cot, Might wonder if mortals life's objects forgot, Or Merdle's position is man's common lot?

He Discourseth of What some Mortals Live for.

"What else do they live for in this world beside?"

What else but for Kittys or one of the same, Do mothers their daughters at schools give the touch That leaves them to live as a wife but in name While position and fashion they frantically clutch.

What else do they live for, our girls so refined, So forward, precocious, and gifted at ten They are flirting and courting and things of the kind, That never came under our grandmother's ken.

At fifteen so dressed up, and hooped up, I ween, They're mothers full often before they're sixteen, And fading and dowdy and sickly at twenty, With one boy in trowsers and two girls in laces Complaining of starving while dying of plenty The fate is of ladies in fashionable places.

He Imploreth Mercy upon those condemned with fashionable folly to Marry, and Illustrateth their Condition.

Now heaven in mercy be kind to the wretch, Who marries for money or fashion or folly; He'd better accept of the noose of Jack Ketch Than such a "help-meet;" or at once marry Dolly The cook, or with Bridget, the maid of the broom; With one he'd be sure to get coffee and meat, And never hear whining of nothing to eat, And 't other would make up his bed and his room; And if he was blest with a child now and then, As happens sometimes with your fashionable wives, Who're coupled to bipeds, in nature called men, He'd need no insurance to warrant their lives; And need no expense of a grand "bridal tour," Or visit each season at "watering places," Where fashion at people well known to be poor, In money or station, will make ugly faces; Where women, though married, with roues will flirt; Where widows, though widows in fresh sable weeds, Spread nets that entangle like old Nessus' shirt And finish with Burdell and Cunningham deeds; Where daughters when fading are taken to spend A month at the springs, or a week in salt water; Where bachelors flirting on Ellen attend, Are whispered by mamma, "engaged to my daughter."

He Imploreth Merry for other Unfortunate Beings.

Now heaven in mercy be kind to the wretches Who stay on the earth like this Mrs. Merdle!

More wretched than ever a wretch on the hurdle Was drawn by all England's official Jack Ketches; More wretched, if can be, at church on a Sunday A woman, who worships, than God, more her dress, Would be if she heard or e'en thought Mrs. Grundy Would sneer at the set of a bonnet or tress; Or say that she thought Miss Freelove's new pattern Of laces, or collars, or yard flowing sleeves, Looked more like the dress of a real Miss Slattern And not "so becoming"'s the first one of Eve's.

He Discourseth of a Common Prayer.

Yet look at the thousands whose every day prayer, Far more than their own or their neighbor's salvation, Absorbs every thought, every dream, and all care, "To eat or to wear, is anything new in creation?"

He Discourseth of Trouble and Sorrow.

What else do they live for? They live but for this; And nothing but this ever troubles their thinking; Rich eating, rich dressing, and flirting's their bliss, And life's better purposes constantly blinking.

Their life's but a tissue of trouble and sorrow Of what is the fashion or will be to-morrow.

He Moralizeth upon what a Day may Bring forth.

"To-morrow!" who'll warrant to-morrow we'll see?

Who'll care the next day or day after for dinner?


Nothing to Eat - 6/7

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