As I sate in my study, lone and still,
Thinking of Sergeant Talfourd's Bill,
And the speech by Lawyer Sugden made,
In spirit congenial, for "the Trade,"
Sudden I sunk to sleep and lo!
Upon Fancy's reinless nightmare flitting,
I found myself, in a second or so,
At the table of Messrs. Type and Co.
With a goodly group of diners sitting;--
All in the printing and publishing line,
Drest, I thought, extremely fine,
And sipping like lords their rosy wine;
While I in a state near inanition
With coat that hadn't much nap to spare
(Having just gone into its second edition),
Was the only wretch of an author there.
But think, how great was my surprise,
When I saw, in casting round my eyes,
That the dishes, sent up by Type's she-cooks,
Bore all, in appearance, the shape of books;
Large folios--God knows where they got 'em,
In these small times--at top and bottom;
And quartos (such as the Press provides
For no one to read them) down the sides.
Then flasht a horrible thought on my brain,
And I said to myself, "'Tis all too plain,
"Like those well known in school quotations,
"Who ate up for dinner their own relations,
"I see now, before me, smoking here,
"The bodies and bones of my brethren dear;--
"Bright sons of the lyric and epic Muse,
"All cut up in cutlets, or hasht in stews;
"Their works, a light thro' ages to go,--
"Themselves, eaten up by Type and Co.!"
While thus I moralized, on they went,
Finding the fare most excellent:
And all so kindly, brother to brother,
Helping the tidbits to each other:
"A slice of Southey let me send you"--
"This cut of Campbell I recommend you"--
"And here, my friends, is a treat indeed,
"The immortal Wordsworth fricasseed!"
Thus having, the cormorants, fed some time,
Upon joints of poetry--all of the prime--
With also (as Type in a whisper averred it)
"Cold prose on the sideboard, for such as preferred it"--
They rested awhile, to recruit their force,
Then pounced, like kites, on the second course,
Which was singing-birds merely--Moore and others--
Who all went the way of their larger brothers;
And, numerous now tho' such songsters be,
'Twas really quite distressing to see
A whole dishful of Toms--Moore, Dibdin, Bayly,--
Bolted by Type and Co. so gayly!
Nor was this the worst--I shudder to think
What a scene was disclosed when they came to drink.
The warriors of Odin, as every one knows,
Used to drink out of skulls of slaughtered foes:
And Type's old port, to my horror I found,
Was in skulls of bards sent merrily round.
And still as each well-filled cranium came,
A health was pledged to its owner's name;
While Type said slyly, midst general laughter,
"We eat them up first, then drink to them after."
There was no standing this--incensed I broke
From my bonds of sleep, and indignant woke,
Exclaiming, "Oh shades of other times,
"Whose voices still sound, like deathless chimes,
"Could you e'er have foretold a day would be,
"When a dreamer of dreams should live to see
"A party of sleek and honest John Bulls
"Hobnobbing each other in poets' skulls!"