‘Tis plain enough that Shakespeare was atrimmin’
His own unruly ship and furling sail
To meet a British tempest or a gale,
And keep cold water from his wine and women.
Now I’ll admit, when he’s a little mellow,
The Devil himself’s a devilish clever fellow,
And, though his cheeks and paunch are somewhat shrunk,
He only lacks a cowl to make a monk.
Time is the mother of twins et hic et nunc;
Come, hood your horns and fill the mug abrimmin’,
For we are cheek by jowl on wit and wine and women.”
And so the monk and Devil filled the mug,
And quaffed and chaffed and laughed the night away;
And when the “wee sma” hours of night had come,
The monk slipped out and stole the abbot’s rum;
And when the abbot came at break of day,
There cheek by jowl—horns, hoofs, and hood—they lay,
With open missal and an empty jug,
And broken beads and badly battered mug—
In fond embrace—dead drunk upon the rug.
Think not, wise reader, that the bard hath drunk
The wine that fumed these vagaries from the monk;
Nor, in the devil ethics thou hast read,
There spake the poet in the Devil’s stead.
Let Virtue be our helmet and our shield,
And Truth our weapon—weapon sharp and strong
And deadly to all error and all wrong.
Yea, armed with Truth, though rogues and rascals throng
The citadel of Virtue shall not yield,
For God’s right arm of Truth prevails in every field.
[Illustration: THE DEVIL AND THE MONK]
Monarch of Hannah’s rocking-chair,
With unclipped beard and unkempt hair,
Sitting at ease by the kitchen fire,
Nor heeding the wind and the driving sleet,
Jo Lumpkin perused the Daily Liar—
A leading and stanch Democratic sheet,
While Hannah, his wife, in her calico,
Sat knitting a pair of mittens for Jo.
“Hanner,” he said, and he raised his eyes
And looked exceedingly grave and wise,
“The kentry’s agoin, I guess, tu the dogs:
Them durned Republikins, they air hogs:
A dev’lish purty fix we air in;
They’ve gone un riz the teriff on tin.”
“How’s thet?” said Hannah, and turned
With a look of wonder and vague surprise.
“Why them confoundered Congriss chaps
Hez knocked the prices out uv our craps:
We can’t sell butter ner beans no more
Tu enny furren ship er shore,
Becuz them durned Republikins
Hez gone un riz the teriff on tins.”
Hannah dropped her knitting-work on her knees,
And looked very solemn and ill-at-ease:
She gazed profoundly into the fire,
Then hitched her chair a little bit nigher,
And said as she glanced at the Daily Liar
With a sad, wan look in her buttermilk eyes:
“I vum thet’s a tax on punkin-pies,
Fer they know we allers bakes ’em in
Pans un platters un plates uv tin.”