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Haunted

BY OUR DEPRESSED CONTRIBUTOR

Fun, n.s. III - 24th Mar. 1866


Illustration added by Gilbert in 1898
HAUNTED? Ay, in a social way,
By a body of ghosts in a dread array:
But no conventional spectres they —
Appalling, grim, and tricky:
I quail at mine as I'd never quail
At a fine traditional spectre pale,
With a turnip head and a ghostly wail,
And a splash of blood on the dicky!

Mine are horrible social ghosts,
Speeches and women and guests and hosts,
Weddings and morning calls and toasts,
In every bad variety:
Ghosts that hover about the grave
Of all that's manly, free, and brave:
You'll find their names on the architrave
Of that charnel-house, Society.

Black Monday — black as its schoolroom ink —
With its dismal boys that snivel and think
Of nauseous messes to eat and drink,
And a frozen tank to wash in.
That was the first that brought me grief
And made me weep, till I sought relief
In an emblematical handkerchief,
To choke such baby bosh in.

First and worst in the grim array —
Ghosts of ghosts that have gone their way,
Which I wouldn't revive for a single day
For all the wealth of PLUTUS —
Are the horrible ghosts that school days scared:
If the classical ghost that BRUTUS dared
Was the ghost of his "Caesar" unprepared,
I'm sure I pity BRUTUS.

I pass to critical seventeen:
The ghost of that terrible wedding scene,
When an elderly colonel stole my queen,
And woke my dream of heaven:
No school-girl decked in her nursery curls
Was my gushing innocent queen of pearls;
If she wasn't a girl of a thousand girls,
She was one of forty-seven!

I see the ghost of my first cigar —
Of the thence-arising family jar —
Of my maiden brief (I was at the bar),
When I called the judge "Your wushup"!
Of reckless days and reckless nights,
With wrenched-off knockers, extinguished lights,
Unholy songs, and tipsy fights,
Which I strove in vain to hush up.

Ghosts of fraudulent joint-stock banks,
Ghosts of copy, "declined with thanks,"
Of novels returned in endless ranks,
And thousands more, I suffer.
The only line to fitly grace
My humble tomb, when I've run my race,
Is "Reader, this is the resting-place
Of an unsuccessful duffer."

I've fought them all, these ghosts of mine,
But the weapons I've used are sighs and brine,
And now that I'm nearly forty-nine,
Old age is my only bogy;
For my hair is thinning away at the crown,
And the silver fights with the worn-out brown;
And a general verdict sets me down
As an irreclaimable fogy.

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