The Village Wedding.

From house to house, with nicely papered hair,1
Why roams each busy and ecstatic pair ?2
And why these marks of some unusual feat,3
That hum, and bustle, through the village street ?4
Why walks the Dame in nicely-platted Toy,5
And why, in Sunday doublet, struts the boy ?6
Why dresses Tibby, in her best attire,7
Whilst gaping gigglement surrounds the fire ?8
His dusty visage why does labour clear,9
And sports the evening in. his newest gear ?10
A “ Village Wedding,” by the setting. sun,11
Already is the merriment begun ;12
Blind Davie Daw has plucked the sounding string,13
Attuned his fiddle, and away they spring.14
For “ Dainty Davy,” here the cummers cry,15
With “ Jenny Nettles,” there the lads reply ;16
They set, they flap, they loudly beat the ground,17
With closing arms, they wheel each other round,18
The maddening music gains upon their feet,19
So with their hands, a symphony they beat.20
More rapture still in every reel appears,21
They almost seem suspended by the ears,22
So high they leap—so knowingly they spring,23
With so much suppleness and breadth of fling,24
That skinless heels and: trodden toes ensue,25
And Jamie swears, his shins are black and blue,26
While haverel Jean her hanging stocking ties,27
And to the dance with maddening fury flies.28
Thy scraping slack, thy bow in mercy draw,29
Have pity on the “ Lassies,”—Davie Daw.30
How swell these sides beneath the tightened dress, 31
How pants the Miller’s blooming daughter Bess,32
Fat Tibby’s cheeks are blown into a fame33
If ought befall the Lassies, thou’rt to blame.34
And now on Lover’s knees, the Cummers sit,35
Scorning their partners—with provoking wit36
Backwards their heads in jeering mood they throw37
And what the fools are after, beg to know,38
They flounce, they giggle, and their necks they twist,39
And spite of all their flummery are kissed.—40
The cheering punch goes round in caps and jugs,41
And freely in the drink they lay their lugs.42
’Tis tongue, and tug, and mimic flight, and squall,43
And love, and heat, and palpitation all !44
Apart upon a broader board ’tis fit45
The wiser few in conversation sit46
Here gaucy Wives with aprons new are seen,47
Commixed with “ would-be Women,” of thirteen !48
And aged cronies bent upon their tale,49
Fill up each pause with lengthened draughts of ale.50
Again the youngsters fill the floor at once,51
Arranged and partnered for a “ Country Dance ;”52
Some “ Fat Gudewife” of more than forty years,53
Dragged to the top, to lead the dance appears54
In vain she struggles, scolds, protests, and tries,55
To gain the leave, her Partner still denies56
The “ Soldiers Joy,” one clamouronsly demands,—57
They wheel, they caper, and they cross their hands,58
All tongues are busy, every limb employed,59
All time, all order, and all rule destroyed,60
This way and that, like troubled ocean tossed,61
All figure, plan, consistency, are lost62
Thus fared it once, ere order kept a school,63
Whilst Nature lumbered in chaotic pool ;64
And struggling atoms through the dark expanse,65
From dateless ages kept their “ Country Dance.”—66
Now kissing seems no more of stealth but law,67
And squeaking lassies nestle in the “ straw.”68
Along the dale and up the mountain side,69
Of noise and merriment, there drifts a tide,70
And name to name returns, and shout to shout,71
As onward swells the glee, and revel rout,72
More distant still the circling echoes come,73
As each his several way diverges “ home.”74
Poor hapless Tibby much the Muse bewails,75
The glee that softens and the night that veils,76
The lying, coaxing, treacherous jeers that win,77
Thy all of future life to woe—and sin !78
Unhallowed Boyhood, raw, blood driven and blind79
To all of rational that marks thy kind,80
Oh, pause, and shiver through each boiling vein !81
The risk contemplate—estimate the gain,—82
Thy bark, once stranded on that fatal shore,83
Thou ne’er mayst spread the swelling canvass more.84
In vain we preach, in vain the truth apply,85
With manner warm, and vice-confounding eye86
In vain we pour the sacramental wine,87
And proffer to the soul the draught divine.88
In vain the sigh, the humbled soul that speaks,89
The drops fast coursing o’er the sinner’s cheeks,90
The fervours that exalt, the thoughts that pant,91
The all that speaks the “ young Communicant.”92
One “ Wedding Night,” with all its tipsy fun,93
And each truth-hallowed sentiment is gone.94
Effaced and banished every pious thought,95
And every good resolve reduced to nought.96
We need no “ Trials” * to corrupt the land97
No Surgeon candidate† for place to stand98
Our “ penny weddings” do the thing as well,99
And book full many a candidate for hell.100

* Written during the trial of the Queen.