Punch and Judy.

Little it matters, where that sound is heard
Through this metropolis of Britain's Isles;
Whether, where thousands are almost interred
In smoky dens, and seldom sunshine smiles;
Or where gay splendour revels: — in a word,
The parish of St. James or of St. Giles
Starts up alike; and every being round
Finds in his heart an echo to that sound.

And sparkling eyes from door and window greet
The cavalcade that moves with merry din,
Or sudden stops in some gay square or street,
Or in the learned fields of Lincoln's-Inn.
Behold! the drama for no ear unmeet,
Most loved and most repeated, doth begin:
For tell me, when was OEdipus — Othello —
The Cid, played half so oft as Punchinello?

But who shall paint that drama? — 'twould employ
Weeks, months, to go through all its operations
Th’ extreme vicissitudes of grief and joy.
Embraces, quarrels, reconciliations —
Blows which, were either mortal, must destroy;
Falls, faintings, dyings, revivifications —
Descents — and reappearances — love — strife,
And all the strange epitome of life.

'Tis done : —that stroke has slain the Dame outright;
Now lay her out,—and o'er her breathless corse
An inquest hold: — while Punch—ah, wretched wight!
Weeps with full anguish of too late remorse !
But lo! she wakes — she stirs—and swift as light
Attacks the mourner with a fury's force:
And now they hug — now fight — now part — now meet,
While unextinguished laughter shakes the street!

Hark! how his head is knocked against the floor!
Look, how he writhes his body as in pain!
And widowed Judy must in turn deplore
Her lord—who in his turn shall rise again.
And now they roll and tumble o'er and o'er,
And now — but gaze thyself — for words are vain.
Punch hast thou seen?—then thou anew wilt see;
If not, life has some pleasure yet for thee.*

Oh Punch! no vulgar mountebank art thou,
That splits our ears at holiday or fair :
Thou dost not bring a frown upon the brow
By pains inflicted upon dog or bear.
Nor stands a theatre in Britain now,
Fit the first honours from thy front to tear;
Nor gilded dome, nor stately structure, worth
Thine unelaborate and itinerant mirth.

* Of late, with grief of heart it must be told,
Punch and his wife have somewhat lost their stations:
For apes and dressed-up dogs have been enrolled
As aids to them and their sublime creations.
But yet our poet rather would behold
(Hating, 'tis plain, these modern innovations)
At any hour, tea, breakfast, dinner, lunch,
The good old unsophisticated Punch.