VERSES, INTENDED TO GO WITH A POSSET DISH TO MY DEAR LITTLE GODDAUGHTER, 1882
In good old times, which means, you know,
The time men wasted long ago,
And we must blame our brains or mood
If that we squander seems less good,
In those blest days when wish was act
And fancy dreamed itself to fact,
Godfathers used to fill with guineas
The cups they gave their pickaninnies,
Performing functions at the chrism
Not mentioned in the Catechism.
No millioner, poor I fill up
With wishes my more modest cup,
Though had I Amalthea’s horn
It should be hers the newly born.
Nay, shudder not! I should bestow it
So brimming full she couldn’t blow it.
Wishes aren’t horses: true, but still
There are worse roadsters than goodwill.
And so I wish my darling health,
And just to round my couplet, wealth,
With faith enough to bridge the chasm
‘Twixt Genesis and Protoplasm,
And bear her o’er life’s current vext
From this world to a better next,
Where the full glow of God puts out
Poor reason’s farthing candle, Doubt.
I’ve wished her healthy, wealthy, wise,
What more can godfather devise?
But since there’s room for countless wishes
In these old-fashioned posset dishes,
I’ll wish her from my plenteous store
Of those commodities two more,
Her father’s wit, veined through and through
With tenderness that Watts (but whew!
Celia’s aflame, I mean no stricture
On his Sir Josh-surpassing picture)–
I wish her next, and ’tis the soul
Of all I’ve dropt into the bowl,
Her mother’s beauty–nay, but two
So fair at once would never do.
Then let her but the half possess,
Troy was besieged ten years for less.
Now if there’s any truth in Darwin,
And we from what was, all we are win,
I simply wish the child to be
A sample of Heredity,
Enjoying to the full extent
Life’s best, the Unearned Increment
Which Fate her Godfather to flout
Gave him in legacies of gout.
Thus, then, the cup is duly filled;
Walk steady, dear, lest all be spilled.