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The Emperor's Rout   By:

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[Frontispiece: M. Gauci delt. Printed by C. Motte 23 Leicester Sqre. ]







As the Emperor Moth [1] sat one evening in May, Fanned by numberless wings in the moon's silver ray, While around him the zephyrs breathed sweetest perfume, Thus he spoke to his dwarf with the Ragged white plume :[2] "That vain Butterfly's Ball, I hear, was most splendid, And, as the world says, very fully attended, Though she never asked us, but assigned as a cause, We were all much too heavy to gallope and waltz. What impertinence this, want of grace to ascribe To the Lord of the whole Lepidopterous tribe; I too'll give a ball, and such folks to chastise, I'll not be at home to these pert butterflies. Bid the Empress [3] come hither, and we'll talk about What arrangements to make for a capital rout."

[Illustration: THE INVITATION.]

The Empress obeyed her lord's summons with speed, And proceeded her visiting tablets to read, That those of her subjects, whose homage was booked In that coveted record, might not be o'erlooked. Then the Bufftip [4] began to write each moth a card, Having one for herself just by way of reward. "First ask," says the Emperor, "the Glory of Kent ,[5] On having much beauty my mind is quite bent; The Belle , too, of Brixton ,[6] the Marvel du Jour ,[7] And the Peach blossom [8] moth you'll invite, I am sure; The Sphinx [9] too, shall come, who makes riddles so well, And the Gipsey [10] be ready our fortunes to tell; Mother Shipton [11] shall chap'rone the lovely Black I ,[12] And those awkward Greek girls, Lambda ,[13] Gamma ,[14] and Chi ;[15] Hebrew Character ,[16] too, who for routs has a passion; And I'll ask Mrs. Gothic ,[17] though she's out of fashion, For I love my old friends, and had rather that they Should partake of our feast, than the idle and gay, Who flutter about without object or reason, Just live for an hour, and last but a season." How little, alas! do great moths bear in mind, That their tenure of life is of just the same kind. "You're right," said the Empress, "and truly 'twere shabby, T'exclude from our party poor old Mrs. Tabby ,[18] And the Rustics [19] I'll ask, though not one has a gown In which to appear, save of black, grey, or brown; And some of them go, too, so feathered and flounced, That the Coxcomb [20] called Prominent , on them pronounced A sentence of censure, quite just, but so tart, That I felt, when I heard it, quite cut to the heart. But now to proceed, Sire, the Leopard [21] I vote, Be razed from our list, with that ugly old Goat ,[22] Who in youth made such terrible use of his jaws, That I dread, I confess, e'en the sight of his claws; And as to his muscles, 'tis said that when counted, To four thousand and just forty one they amounted; Of Musk too, I'm told, he sheds such perfume, That wherever he goes, he fills the whole room. Exclude him we will, with the old Dromedary ,[23] The Elephant [24] cunning, and Fox [25] too, so wary, That though I don't know it for certain, I'm told They cheat at Ecarté, like Hermes of old.

[Illustration: THE DEATH'S HEAD MOTH.]

The Ghost [26] and Death's head ,[27] and that terrible host, Would but scare all the guests" Here the Emperor lost, For a moment, his patience, and cried to his spouse, "If thus you proceed, ma'am, my anger you'll rouse. Like th' Egyptians of old, I'll have at my feast A figure of death, or his cross bones at least, To remind all our guests of the limited span That to moths is allotted, as well as to man, And how e'en in the midst of enjoyment's gay hour, We are still in death's stern and inflexible power. So let them have cards, and I'll go and prepare For receiving our friends, the best possible fare... Continue reading book >>

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