Mister Punch. (A Hasty Sketch.)

A poem by Thomas Gent

Who stops the Minister of State,
When hurrying to the Lords' debate?
Who, spite of gravity beguiles,
The solemn Bishop of his smiles?
See from the window, "burly big,"
The Judge pops out his awful wig,
Yet, seems to love a bit of gig!--While
both the Sheriffs and the Mayor
Forget the "Address"--and stop to stare--And
who detains the Husband true,
Running to Doctor Doode-Doo,
To save his Wife "in greatest danger;"
While e'en the Doctor keeps the stranger
Another hour from life and light,
To gape at the bewitching sight.
The Bard, in debt, whom Bailiffs ferret,
Despite his poetry and merit,
Stops in his quick retreat awhile,
And tries the long-forgotten smile;
E'en the pursuing Bum forgets
His business, and the man of Debts;
The one neglecting "Caption"--"Bail"--
The other "thoughts of gyves and Jail"--
So wondrous are the spells that bind
The noble and ignoble mind.
The Paviour halts in mid-grunt--stands
With rammer in his idle hands;
And quite refined, and at his ease,
Forgetting onions, bread, and cheese,
The hungry Drayman leaves his lunch,
To take a peep at Mister Punch.

Delightful thy effects to see,
Thou charm of age and infancy!
The old Man clears his rheumy eye,
The six months' Babe forgets to cry;
No passers by--all fondly gloat,
So welcome is thy cheering note,
Which time nor taste has ever changed;
And after every clime we've ranged,
Return to thee--our childhood's joy,
And, spite of age, still play the boy!

Yon pious Thing who walks by rule,
Unconscious laughs, and plays the fool,
And by his side the prim old Maid
Looks "welcome fun" and "who's afraid."
Behold, that happy ruddy face,
In which there seems no vacant place,
That could another joy impart,
For one laugh more would break his heart.
And, lo, behind! his sober Brother,
Striving in vain the laugh to smother.
That giggling Girl must burst outright,
For Punch has now possess'd her quite.
While She, who ran to Chemist's shop
For life or death--here finds a stop:
Forgets for whom--for what--she ran,
And leaves to Heaven the bleeding man!
The Parish Beadle, gilded calf,
Lays by his terror, joins the laugh,
Permits poor souls, without offence,
To sell their fruit and count their pence,
And, as by humour grown insane,
Allows the boys to touch his cane!
Poor little Sweep true comfort quaffs,
Ceases to cry--and loudly laughs.
See! what a wondrous powerful spell
Punch holds o'er Dustman and his bell;
And scolding Wife with clapper still--
The Landlord quits awhile his till,
While Pot-boy, busiest of the bunch,
Steals pence for self, and beer for Punch.
Look at that window, you may trace
At every pane a laughing face.
Yon graceful Girl and her smart Lover,
And in the story just above her,
The Housemaid, with her hair in papers,
All finding Punch a cure for vapours.
E'en the pale Dandy, fresh from France,
Throws on the group an eye askance;
Twirls his moustache, and seems to fear
That some gay friend may catch him here.
The Widowed wretch, who only fed,
On bitter thoughts and tear-wash'd bread,
Forgets her cares, and seems to smile
To see friend Punch her babe beguile.
Magician of the wounded heart,
Oh! there thy wonted aid impart:
Long be the merryman of our Isle,
And win the universal smile!

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