Your sincere friend,
* * * * *
THE ROMANCE OF A TEACUP.
SIP THE FIRST.
In England one man’s mated to one
To spend their days in holy matrimony—
In fact, I have heard from one or two men,
That one wife in a house is one too many—
But, be this as it may, in China no man
Who can afford it shuts himself to any
Fix’d number, but is variously encumber’d
With better halves, from twenty to a hundred.
These to provide for in a pleasant way,
And, maybe, to avoid their chat and worry,
He shuts up in a harem night and day—
With them contriving all his cares to bury—
A point of policy which, I should say,
Sweetens the dose to men about to marry;
For, though a wife’s a charming thing enough,
Yet, like all other blessings, quantum suff.
So to my tale: Te-pott the Multifarious
Was, once upon a time, a mandarin—
In personal appearance but precarious,
Being incorrigibly bald and thin—
But then so rich, through jobs and pensions various,
Obtain’d by voting with the party “in,”
That he maintain’d, in grace and honour too,
Sixty-five years, and spouses fifty-two.
Fifty-two wives! and still he went about
Peering below the maiden ladies’ veils—
Indeed, it was said (but there hangs a doubt
Of scandal on such gossip-whisper’d tales),
He had a good one still to single out—
For all his wives had tongues, and some had nails—
And still he hoped, though fifty-twice deferr’d,
To find an angel in his fifty-third.
In China, mind, and such outlandish places,
A gentleman who wishes to be wed
Looks round about among the pretty faces,
Nor for a moment doubts they may be had
For asking; and if any of them “nay” says,
He has his remedy as soon as said—
For, when the bridegrooms disapprove what they do,
They teach them manners with the bastinado.
Near Te-pott’s palace lived an old
About as poor a man as could be known
In lands where guardians leave them to their ease,
Nor pen the poor up in bastilles of stone:
He got a livelihood by picking teas;
And of possessions worldly had but one—
But one—the which, the reader must be told,
Was a fair daughter seventeen years old.