In days of yore, when men were slow,1
And simple things were taught to know,2
With understandings meek and low,3
And lowly veneration ;4
How clumsy were the arts designed5
By unsophisticated hind6
To mystify the rural mind,7
And make a great sensation.8
Some mask, or sheet-and-turnip ghost,9
Or awkward conjuror at the most,10
Was all that genius then could boast,11
By way of agitation.12
The problem of the missing pea ;13
The wandering porker’s A B C ;14
The fortune-teller’s mysterie,15
Comprised their stock sensation.16
The puzzled boor would scratch his pate,17
And grin, and own the trick was great ;18
But ne’er would he profanely prate19
Of “ spirit visitation.”20
He loved a ghost, and loved it best21
When he the goblin could arrest22
And then apply the cart-whip test,23
And give and take sensation.24
But conjurors now affect alliance25
With spirits, and the de’il’s compliance;26
Raise hocus-pocus to a “ science27
With vast elaboration.28
And silly dames and solemn fools,29
Will lend themselves the trickster’s tools30
And sit like gaping girls in schools31
Awaiting a sensation.32
The expert their little wit confuses ;33
His neat machinery he uses ;34
A trumpet sounds, a table cruises35
Immense their perturbation !36
A colleague binds the conjuror tight,37
And then extinguishes the light ;38
Then thumps the audience left and right,39
Producing great sensation,40
And simple dupes of either sex41
Their little bit of brain perplex,42
Believing spirits come to vex,43
And hold confabulation.44
And thus our wiser age we find45
Befooled ; more ignorant than the hind,46
Whose healthy credence was confined *47
To rational sensation.48
The arts, the drama, and the press49
This ruling principle profess ;50
Religion too doth hardly less51
In this our generation ;52
Until we sigh again to know53
Those dear old days of long ago,54
When men were simple, dull, and slow,55
And lived without sensation.56