He cursed him in coughing, in sneezing, in winking;
He cursed him in sitting, in standing, in lying;
He cursed him in walking, in riding, in flying,
He cursed him in living, he cursed him in dying!—
Never was heard such a terrible curse!
But what gave rise to no little surprise,
Nobody seem’d one penny the worse!
The day was gone, the night
The Monks and the Friars they search’d till dawn;
When the Sacristan saw, on crumpled claw,
Come limping a poor little lame Jackdaw;
No longer gay, as on yesterday;
His feathers all seem’d to be turn’d the wrong way;—
His pinions droop’d—he could hardly stand—
His head was as bald as the palm of your hand;
His eye so dim, so wasted each limb,
That, heedless of grammar, they all cried, “THAT’S HIM!—
That’s the scamp that has done this scandalous thing!
That’s the thief that has got my Lord Cardinal’s Ring!”
The poor little Jackdaw, when
the monks he saw,
Feebly gave vent to the ghost of a caw;
And turn’d his bald head, as much as to say,
“Pray be so good as to walk this way!”
Slower and slower, he limp’d on before,
Till they came to the back of the belfry door,
When the first thing they saw,
Midst the sticks and the straw,
Was the RING in the nest of that little Jackdaw!
Then the great Lord Cardinal call’d
for his book,
And off that terrible curse he took;
The mute expression served in lieu of confession,
And, being thus coupled with full restitution,
The Jackdaw got plenary absolution!
—When those words were heard, that poor little bird
Was so changed in a moment, ’twas really absurd.
He grew sleek, and fat; in addition to that,
A fresh crop of feathers came thick as a mat!
His tail waggled more Even than before;
But no longer it wagg’d with an impudent air,
No longer he perch’d on the Cardinal’s chair.
He hopp’d now about With a gait devout;
At Matins, at Vespers, he never was out;
And, so far from any more pilfering deeds,
He always seem’d telling the Confessor’s beads.
If any one lied,—or if any one swore,—
Or slumber’d in prayer-time and happened to snore,
That good Jackdaw would give a great “Caw,”
As much as to say, “Don’t do so any more!”
While many remarked, as his manners they saw,
That they “never had known such a pious Jackdaw!”
He long lived the pride of that country side,
And at last in the odour of sanctity died;
When, as words were too faint his merits to paint,
The Conclave determined to make him a Saint!
And on newly-made Saints and Popes, as you know,
It’s the custom, at Rome, new names to bestow,
So they canonized him by the name of. Jim Crow!
BY CHARLES MACKAY.