The Vision of the Alderman

by Henry S. Leigh

An Alderman sat at a festive board,
Quaffing the blood-red wine,
And many a Bacchanal stave outpour'd
In praise of the fruitful vine.
Turtle and salmon and Strasbourg pie
Pippins and cheese were there;
And the bibulous Alderman wink'd his eye,
For the sherris was old and rare.
But a cloud came o'er his gaze eftsoons,
And his wicked old orbs grew dim;
Then drink turn'd each of the silver spoons
To a couple of spoons for him.
He bow'd his head at the festive board,
By the gaslight's dazzling gleam:
He bow'd his head and he slept and snor'd,
And he dream'd a fearful dream.
Far, carried away on the wings of Sleep,
His spirit was onward borne,
Till he saw vast holiday crowds in Chepe
On a ninth November morn.
Guns were booming and bells ding-dong'd,
Ethiop minstrels play'd;
And still, wherever the burghers throng'd,
Brisk jongleurs drove their trade.
Scarlet Sheriffs, the City's pride,
With a portly presence fill'd
The whole of the courtyard just outside
The hall of their ancient Guild.
And in front of the central gateway there,
A marvellous chariot roll'd,
(Like gingerbread at a country fair
'Twas cover'd with blazing gold).
 
And a being, array'd in pomp and pride
Was brought to the big stone gate;
And they begg'd that being to mount and ride
In that elegant coach of state.
But, oh! he was fat, so ghastly fat,
Was that being of pomp and pride,
That, in spite of many attempts thereat,
He couldn't be pushed inside.
That being was press'd, but press'd in vain,
Till the drops bedew'd his cheek;
The gilded vehicle rock'd again,
And the springs began to creak.
The slumbering alderman groan'd a groan,
For a vision he seem'd to trace,
Some horrible semblance to his own
In that being's purple face.
And, "Oh!" he cried, as he started up;
"Sooner than come to that,
Farewell for ever the baneful cup
And the noxious turtle fat!"—
They carried him up the winding-stair;
They laid him upon the bed;
And they left him, sleeping the sleep of care,
With an ache in his nightcapp'd head.