Bought and Sold



Simple souls, who’ve implicitly ever believed
In man the deceiver and maid the deceived;
That, if hearts once united again become two,
The broadcloth was false and the muslin was true;
Be known to the heroes that breathe in my lay,
Harry Leslie, Esquire, and Sir Vivian de Grey.

I’ll tell you the story as told me in town
sold1Of this tourney in love where the best knight went down,
This race where the distanced competitor won,
And the first past the post was remorselessly done:
This main where a bride was the stake of the play,
And the players young Leslie and Vivian de Grey.

Sir Vivian de Grey was a county M. P.,
Plain, awkward and cold, but a faultless parti,
And like bees to the bloom soft ambitions will throng
Where acres are broad and where rent-rolls are long;
So the pets of the season were vying, they say,
To affect the affections of Vivian de Grey.

 Only one of the fairest seem’d loth to be sold
For the Member’s position, the Baronet’s gold;
Only one little Phyllis seem’d firm to decline
To kneel with the rest at that Corydon’s shrine;
For the thing called a heart she had given away,
Or promised — but not to Sir Vivian de Grey.

If I could I would tell by what spells and what art
Young Leslie had gain’d this debateable heart.
If I could I would guess at the soft whisper’d words
That make little souls flutter like poor prison’d birds.
And arm all the feelings in hostile array
E’en to prestiged invaders like Vivian de Grey.

soldBut my tale hurries on to a critical night;— In Belgravia was revel, and music, and light;
There chariot and Hansom, and clarence and brougham,
Contributed crush to hall, staircase, and room;
And obsequious linkmen obtruding their ray
Illumed the arrival of Vivian de Grey.

The reporters have scann’d him, he skips up the stair,
O, death and distraction! the rival is there:
To his arm the adored one confidingly clings,
And a glance of defiance at Vivian he flings,
As who should insinuate, “Dogs have their day.
But this is not yours, my bold Vivian de Grey!”

Yet forget not, fond swain, that there’s many a slip
‘Twixt the rosiest cup and the hairiest lip;
Presume not on bridal before you are match’d,
And count not your chickens before they are hatch’d!
If the winner be here, and I thought you could t pay.
I’d take very short odds, and name Vivian de Grey.


You might not claim one partner for every set;
Still less in these charming affectionate days,
When the dances put lovers so much a leur aise;
So the life of your life you must bear as you may
To see clasp’d by the biceps of Vivian de Grey.

See the woo’d and the wooer whirl on face to face,
Till his pectoral powers are tried by the pace.
Now he looks at his boot and he toys with his glove,
Is he weary with dancing or breathless with love?
Ah, those faltering accents, too plainly they say,
“Would you gladden the halls of Sir Vivian de Grey?”

Yet start not, accepted, whose look ne’er has left
Those eyes of whose light for this valse you’re bereft;
Though the long lashes droop, yet the lip may be bold,
And your rival’s expression betrays he is sold.
Forced, forced is his smile as he leads her away,
And cold is the parting with Vivian de Grey.

Is it over? Not so. Though the fortress be strong,
And repel the besieger for ever so long,
Still some traitor captain the gates may unbar,
Still the heart of a maid be betrayed by mama.
You have one other card, ’tis a strong one, to play:
Go straight at her mother, Sir Vivian de Grey!

Shortly told is tie sequel. A matron all thunder,
At which ignorant stare and initiates wonder,
From the ball-room the light of the festival slips,
And the hearts of admirers are hush’d in eclipse;
And, as panels of blazonry whisk her away,
They curse thy diplomacy, Vivian de Grey!

Deluded young Leslie! 0, light be thy sleep!
Did’st thou know the night long how the darling will weep,
And the poor little bosom be tortured with sighs,
Not sweet were the slumbers that rest on thine eyes,
Not light the anathema breathed on the day
That usher’d to being Sir Vivian de Grey.

There’s a moral French adage we all recollect,
Which I think might be parodied here with effect.
It ought to be woven in festoons of roses,
sold47“The man may propose, but the mother disposes;”
And the child that rebels must be school’d to obey
Like the child that is sold to Sir Vivian de Grey.

Well! ’tis well that a time comes when broken hearts mend,
And the lover of old becomes simply a friend;
Then she’ll kiss you the tip of her little mauve glove,
And forget, my poor Leslie, the young dream of Love
Or turn the dear face from your soft words away,
With the sweetest of smiles, to Sir Vivian de Grey.

Yet bear yourself boldly; secure in your pride,
And when in the future, as seasons roll on,
By some other bright eyes and soft smile you are won,
If hand be surrender’d, forget not to pray
sold uTo be surer of heart than Sir Vivian de Grey.

And you who seek hand without heart, gentles all,
First bag the old birds, and the young ones must fall.
By purse or by title, though coveys be wild,
Secure but the mother, you’re safe of the child.
So the legend on you will be not thrown away
That is told of young Leslie and Vivian de Grey.


Ralph A. Benson.


About libros19blog

Central Florida
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