Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

Contrasted Scenes From Real Life

Scene I-Marriage of Sir R. Peel With Lady E. Hay

See yonder gorgeous fane, its doors expand,
Throng'd with the rank, wealth, beauty of the land;
And high-born bridesmaids, with a beauteous bride,
Are there, the titled bridegroom by her side.
And diamonds flash, and white plumes wave between,
And lustrous silks, and robes of satin sheen,
And snowy clouds of richest, rarest lace
Float round rare forms of loveliness and grace.
Earl and countess, lord and lady fair,
Wait at the altar the hymeneal pair.
The vows are spoken, and a husband's kiss
Has sealed the pledge of wedded love and bliss-
And kisses, blessings, smiles on every side,
Are showered upon the fair and noble bride.
She, blushing, tearful as a dewy rose,
Leans on the arm belov'd as forth she goes
To mount her gilded chariot, swift away
For home, and love whirls on the cortege gay.
Ah, happy bride! though now to thee is given
Earth's best and brightest; at the throne of heaven
The meanest female of the human race
Shall occupy with thee an equal place.
Scene II-The Incident Is Taken From 'Household Words'

'Tis night in London-dimly gleam the lamps
Through murky fogs and chilly, drizzling damps;
Tenacious mud o'erspreads the slimy street,
And clogs the walker's slow exploring feet.
But 'tis not time, nor place, nor scene, nor hour,
Can damp the soul that owns sweet Pity's power,
Nor bid from scenes of want and woe depart,
Nor freeze the founts of love that warm the heart.
Go on, large-hearted Son of Genius, go!
Look till thy heart is pained, thine eyes o'erflow.
Oh! 'tis a sight to sicken and appal,
Crouched on the miry stones, against the wall
Of yon dark pile, five huddled masses lean,
But sight, nor sound, nor form of life is seen.
Lift up the shrouding rags-a female face
Is seen; there human feeling leaves no trace;
A dreary blank is o'er the features spread-
The very sense of want and pain is dead;
Excess of misery all her powers hath numbed,
And 'neath the crushing load she hath succumbed;
And who, and what art thou? and who are those
That round thee crouch in torpor-not repose?
With feeble voice she spoke, and eyes half-closed:
I know them not, save that we were exposed
Three wintry nights-back from the workhouse driven-
Like things accursed of men, and lost to heaven!
Knowest thou the farthest twain-with arms entwined
Like broken images-their heads reclined
Each on the other? Sisters young, they say,
To Destitution's darkest ills a prey.
And who the next? She from the country came,
And found no choice of life but want or shame.
Dickens, thy graphic pencil paints with power
The crimes, the follies, and the woes that lower
And taint our moral atmosphere; still lend
Thy potent aid-be still the outcast's friend!
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