The Three Christmas Waits

- 1811-1863
  My name is Pleaceman X;
    Last night I was in bed,
  A dream did me perplex,
    Which came into my Edd.
  I dreamed I sor three Waits
    A playing of their tune,
  At Pimlico Palace gates,
    All underneath the moon.
  One puffed a hold French horn,
    And one a hold Banjo,
  And one chap seedy and torn
    A Hirish pipe did blow.
  They sadly piped and played,
    Dexcribing of their fates;
  And this was what they said,
    Those three pore Christmas Waits:

  "When this black year began,
    This Eighteen-forty-eight,
  I was a great great man,
    And king both vise and great,
  And Munseer Guizot by me did show
    As Minister of State.

  "But Febuwerry came,
    And brought a rabble rout,
  And me and my good dame
    And children did turn out,
  And us, in spite of all our right.
    Sent to the right about.

  "I left my native ground,
    I left my kin and kith,
  I left my royal crownd,
    Vich I couldn't travel vith,
  And without a pound came to English ground,
    In the name of Mr. Smith.

  "Like any anchorite
    I've lived since I came here,
  I've kep myself quite quite,
    I've drank the small small beer,
  And the vater, you see, disagrees vith me
    And all my famly dear.

  "O Tweeleries so dear,
    O darling Pally Royl,
  Vas it to finish here
    That I did trouble and toyl?
  That all my plans should break in my ands,
    And should on me recoil?

  "My state I fenced about
    Vith baynicks and vith guns;
  My gals I portioned hout,
    Rich vives I got my sons;
  O varn't it crule to lose my rule,
    My money and lands at once?

  "And so, vith arp and woice,
    Both troubled and shagreened,
  I hid you to rejoice,
    O glorious England's Queend!
  And never have to veep, like pore Louis-Phileep,
    Because you out are cleaned.

  "O Prins, so brave and stout,
    I stand before your gate;
  Pray send a trifle hout
    To me, your pore old Vait;
  For nothink could be vuss than it's been along vith us
    In this year Forty-eight."

  "Ven this bad year began,"
    The nex man said, seysee,
  "I vas a Journeyman,
    A taylor black and free,
  And my wife went out and chaired about,
    And my name's the bold Cuffee.

  "The Queen and Halbert both
    I swore I would confound,
  I took a hawfle hoath
    To drag them to the ground;
  And sevral more with me they swore
    Aginst the British Crownd.

  "Aginst her Pleacemen all
    We said we'd try our strenth;
  Her scarlick soldiers tall
    We vow'd we'd lay full lenth;
  And out we came, in Freedom's name,
    Last Aypril was the tenth.

  "Three 'undred thousand snobs
    Came out to stop the vay,
  Vith sticks vith iron knobs,
    Or else we'd gained the day.
  The harmy quite kept out of sight,
    And so ve vent avay.

  "Next day the Pleacemen came—
    Rewenge it was their plann—
  And from my good old dame
    They took her tailor-mann:
  And the hard hard beak did me bespeak
    To Newgit in the Wann.

  "In that etrocious Cort
    The Jewry did agree;
  The Judge did me transport,
    To go beyond the sea:
  And so for life, from his dear wife
    They took poor old Cuffee.

  "O Halbert, Appy Prince!
    With children round your knees,
  Ingraving ansum Prints,
    And taking hoff your hease;
  O think of me, the old Cuffee,
    Beyond the solt solt seas!

  "Although I'm hold and black,
    My hanguish is most great;
  Great Prince, O call me back,
    And I vill be your Vait!
  And never no more vill break the Lor,
    As I did in 'Forty-eight."

  The tailer thus did close
    (A pore old blackymore rogue),
  When a dismal gent uprose,
    And spoke with Hirish brogue:
  "I'm Smith O'Brine, of Royal Line,
    Descended from Rory Ogue.

  "When great O'Connle died,
    That man whom all did trust,
  That man whom Henglish pride
    Beheld with such disgust,
  Then Erin free fixed eyes on me,
    And swoar I should be fust.

  "'The glorious Hirish Crown,'
    Says she, 'it shall be thine:
  Long time, it's wery well known,
    You kep it in your line;
  That diadem of hemerald gem
    Is yours, my Smith O'Brine.

  "'Too long the Saxon churl
    Our land encumbered hath;
  Arise my Prince, my Earl,
    And brush them from thy path:
  Rise, mighty Smith, and sveep 'em vith
    The besom of your wrath.'

  "Then in my might I rose,
    My country I surveyed,
  I saw it filled with foes,
    I viewed them undismayed;
  'Ha, ha!' says I, 'the harvest's high,
    I'll reap it with my blade.'

  "My warriors I enrolled,
    They rallied round their lord;
  And cheafs in council old
    I summoned to the board—
  Wise Doheny and Duffy bold,
    And Meagher of the Sword.

  "I stood on Slievenamaun,
    They came with pikes and bills;
  They gathered in the dawn,
    Like mist upon the hills,
  And rushed adown the mountain side
    Like twenty thousand rills.

  "Their fortress we assail;
    Hurroo! my boys, hurroo!
  The bloody Saxons quail
    To hear the wild Shaloo:
  Strike, and prevail, proud Innesfail,
    O'Brine aboo, aboo!

  "Our people they defied;
    They shot at 'em like savages,
  Their bloody guns they plied
    With sanguinary ravages:
  Hide, blushing Glory, hide
    That day among the cabbages!

  "And so no more I'll say,
    But ask your Mussy great.
  And humbly sing and pray,
    Your Majesty's poor Wait:
  Your Smith O'Brine in 'Forty-nine
    Will blush for 'Forty-eight."

More by William Makepeace Thackeray

The Mahogany Tree

Christmas is here;
Winds whistle shrill,
Icy and chill,
Little care we;
Little we fear
Weather without,
Shelter'd about
The Mahogany Tree.

Once on the boughs
Birds of rare plume
Sang, in its bloom;
Night birds are we;
Here we carouse,
Singing, like them,
Perch'd round the stem
Of the jolly old tree.

Here let us sport,
Boys, as we sit—
Laughter and wit
Flashing so free.
Life is but short—
When we are gone,
Let them sing on,
Round the old tree.

Evenings we knew,
Happy as this;
Faces we miss,
Pleasant to see.
Kind hearts and true,
Gentle and just,
Peace to your dust!
We sing round the tree.

Care, like a dun,
Lurks at the gate:
Let the dog wait;
Happy we 'll be!
Drink every one;
Pile up the coals,
Fill the red bowls,
Round the old tree.

Drain we the cup.—
Friend, art afraid?
Spirits are laid
In the Red Sea.
Mantle it up;
Empty it yet;
Let us forget,
Round the old tree.

Sorrows, begone!
Life and its ills,
Duns and their bills,
Bid we to flee.
Come with the dawn,
Blue-devil sprite,
Leave us to-night,
Round the old tree.

The Speculators

  The night was stormy and dark,
  The town was shut up in sleep:
  Only those were abroad who were out on a lark,
  Or those who'd no beds to keep.

  I pass'd through the lonely street,
  The wind did sing and blow;
  I could hear the policeman's feet
  Clapping to and fro.

  There stood a potato-man
  In the midst of all the wet;
  He stood with his 'tato-can
  In the lonely Hay-market.

  Two gents of dismal mien,
  And dank and greasy rags,
  Came out of a shop for gin,
  Swaggering over the flags:

  Swaggering over the stones,
  These shabby bucks did walk;
  And I went and followed those seedy ones,
  And listened to their talk.

  Was I sober or awake?
  Could I believe my ears?
  Those dismal beggars spake
  Of nothing but railroad shares.

  I wondered more and more:
  Says one—"Good friend of mine,
  How many shares have you wrote for,
  In the Diddlesex Junction line?"

  "I wrote for twenty," says Jim,
  "But they wouldn't give me one;"
  His comrade straight rebuked him
  For the folly he had done:

  "O Jim, you are unawares
  Of the ways of this bad town;
  I always write for five hundred shares,
  And THEN they put me down."

  "And yet you got no shares,"
  Says Jim, "for all your boast;"
  "I WOULD have wrote," says Jack, "but where
  Was the penny to pay the post?"

  "I lost, for I couldn't pay
  That first instalment up;
  But here's 'taters smoking hot—I say,
  Let's stop, my boy, and sup."

  And at this simple feast
  The while they did regale,
  I drew each ragged capitalist
  Down on my left thumbnail.

  Their talk did me perplex,
  All night I tumbled and tost,
  And thought of railroad specs,
  And how money was won and lost.

  "Bless railroads everywhere,"
  I said, "and the world's advance;
  Bless every railroad share
  In Italy, Ireland, France;
  For never a beggar need now despair,
  And every rogue has a chance."

The Battle of Limerick

    Ye Genii of the nation,
    Who look with veneration.
  And Ireland's desolation onsaysingly deplore;
    Ye sons of General Jackson,
    Who thrample on the Saxon,
  Attend to the thransaction upon Shannon shore,

    When William, Duke of Schumbug,
    A tyrant and a humbug,
  With cannon and with thunder on our city bore,
    Our fortitude and valiance
    Insthructed his battalions
  To respict the galliant Irish upon Shannon shore.

    Since that capitulation,
    No city in this nation
  So grand a reputation could boast before,
    As Limerick prodigious,
    That stands with quays and bridges,
  And the ships up to the windies of the Shannon shore.

    A chief of ancient line,
    'Tis William Smith O'Brine
  Reprisints this darling Limerick, this ten years or more:
    O the Saxons can't endure
    To see him on the flure,
  And thrimble at the Cicero from Shannon shore!

    This valliant son of Mars
    Had been to visit Par's,
  That land of Revolution, that grows the tricolor;
    And to welcome his returrn
    From pilgrimages furren,
  We invited him to tay on the Shannon shore.

    Then we summoned to our board
    Young Meagher of the sword:
  'Tis he will sheathe that battle-axe in Saxon gore;
    And Mitchil of Belfast
    We bade to our repast,
  To dthrink a dish of coffee on the Shannon shore.

    Convaniently to hould
    These patriots so bould,
  We tuck the opportunity of Tim Doolan's store;
    And with ornamints and banners
    (As becomes gintale good manners)
  We made the loveliest tay-room upon Shannon shore.

    'Twould binifit your sowls,
    To see the butthered rowls,
  The sugar-tongs and sangwidges and craim galyore,
    And the muffins and the crumpets,
    And the band of hearts and thrumpets,
  To celebrate the sworry upon Shannon shore.

    Sure the Imperor of Bohay
    Would be proud to dthrink the tay
  That Misthress Biddy Rooney for O'Brine did pour;
    And, since the days of Strongbow,
    There never was such Congo—
  Mitchil dthrank six quarts of it—by Shannon shore.

    But Clarndon and Corry
    Connellan beheld this sworry
  With rage and imulation in their black hearts' core;
    And they hired a gang of ruffins
    To interrupt the muffins,
  And the fragrance of the Congo on the Shannon shore.

    When full of tay and cake,
    O'Brine began to spake;
  But juice a one could hear him, for a sudden roar
    Of a ragamuffin rout
    Began to yell and shout,
  And frighten the propriety of Shannon shore.

    As Smith O'Brine harangued,
    They batthered and they banged:
  Tim Doolan's doors and windies down they tore;
    They smashed the lovely windies
    (Hung with muslin from the Indies),
  Purshuing of their shindies upon Shannon shore.

    With throwing of brickbats,
    Drowned puppies and dead rats,
  These ruffin democrats themselves did lower;
    Tin kettles, rotten eggs,
    Cabbage-stalks, and wooden legs,
  They flung among the patriots of Shannon shore.

    O the girls began to scrame
    And upset the milk and crame;
  And the honorable gintlemin, they cursed and swore:
    And Mitchil of Belfast,
    'Twas he that looked aghast,
  When they roasted him in effigy by Shannon shore.

    O the lovely tay was spilt
    On that day of Ireland's guilt;
  Says Jack Mitchil, "I am kilt!  Boys, where's the back door?
    'Tis a national disgrace:
    Let me go and veil me face;"
  And he boulted with quick pace from the Shannon shore.

    "Cut down the bloody horde!"
    Says Meagher of the sword,
  "This conduct would disgrace any blackamore;"
    But the best use Tommy made
    Of his famous battle blade
  Was to cut his own stick from the Shannon shore.

    Immortal Smith O'Brine
    Was raging like a line;
  'Twould have done your sowl good to have heard him roar;
    In his glory he arose,
    And he rushed upon his foes,
  But they hit him on the nose by the Shannon shore.

    Then the Futt and the Dthragoons
    In squadthrons and platoons,
  With their music playing chunes, down upon us bore;
    And they bate the rattatoo,
    But the Peelers came in view,
  And ended the shaloo on the Shannon shore.