"Up!" said the Spirit and ere I could pray
One hasty orison, whirled me away
To a Limbo, lying--I wist not where--
Above or below, in earth or air;
For it glimmered o'er with a doubtful light,
One couldn't say whether 'twas day or night;
And 'twas crost by many a mazy track,
One didn't know how to get on or back;
And I felt like a needle that's going astray
(With its one eye out) thro' a bundle of hay;
When the Spirit he grinned, and whispered me,
"Thou'rt now in the Court of Chancery!"
Around me flitted unnumbered swarms
Of shapeless, bodiless, tailless forms;
(Like bottled-up babes that grace the room
Of that worthy knight, Sir Everard Home)--
All of them, things half-killed in rearing;
Some were lame--some wanted hearing;
Some had thro' half a century run,
Tho' they hadn't a leg to stand upon.
Others, more merry, as just beginning,
Around on a point of law were spinning;
Or balanced aloft, 'twixt Bill and Answer,
Lead at each end, like a tight-rope dancer.
Some were so cross that nothing could please 'em;-
Some gulpt down affidavits to ease 'em--
All were in motion, yet never a one,
Let it move as it might, could ever move on,
"These," said the Spirit, "you plainly see,
"Are what they call suits in Chancery!"
I heard a loud screaming of old and young,
Like a chorus by fifty Vellutis sung;
Or an Irish Dump ("the words by Moore ")
At an amateur concert screamed in score;--
So harsh on my ear that wailing fell
Of the wretches who in this Limbo dwell!
It seemed like the dismal symphony
Of the shapes' Aeneas in hell did see;
Or those frogs whose legs a barbarous cook
Cut off and left the frogs in the brook,
To cry all night, till life's last dregs,
"Give us our legs!--give us our legs!"
Touched with the sad and sorrowful scene,
I askt what all this yell might mean,
When the Spirit replied, with a grin of glee,
"'Tis the cry of the Suitors in Chancery!"
I lookt and I saw a wizard rise,
With a wig like a cloud before men's eyes.
In his aged hand he held a wand,
Wherewith he beckoned his embryo band,
And they moved and moved as he waved it o'er,
But they never get on one inch the more.
And still they kept limping to and fro,
Like Ariels round old Prospero--
Saying, "Dear Master, let us go,"
But still old Prospero answered "No."
And I heard the while that wizard elf
Muttering, muttering spells to himself,
While o'er as many old papers he turned,
As Hume e'er moved for or Omar burned.
He talkt of his virtue--"tho' some, less nice,
(He owned with a sigh) preferred his Vice"--
And he said, "I think"--"I doubt"--"I hope,"
Called God to witness, and damned the Pope;
With many more sleights of tongue and hand
I couldn't for the soul of me understand.
Amazed and posed, I was just about
To ask his name, when the screams without,
The merciless clack of the imps within,
And that conjuror's mutterings, made such a din,
That, startled, I woke--leapt up in my bed--
Found the Spirit, the imps, and the conjuror fled,
And blest my stars, right pleased to see,
That I wasn't as yet in Chancery.