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Oh! let me not thine aid in vain require!
Inspire thou me, whilst I thy breath inspire.
List to my prayer, and let me be possessed
Of rich outpourings' strained from thy full chest ;
Brace, if thou canst, my strings, and give them tone,
And fill my leaves with virtues like thine own.
Let me upraise the curved lid and see
The fancied forms of Hyson and Bohea;
Imbue my lips their mournful fates to tell,
Whilst flow hot streams for two that loved so well.
Love, wondrous smith! who fashions chains from looks,
And from mere eyes can form both eyes and hooks,
Had linked their hearts the hour that first they met,
Had linked their hearts with links that bound them
In lonely glen their constant love began,
And, first by chance, oft since they met by plan.
In sooth they were a goodly pair to see ;
Hyson was fat, and beauteous was Bohea;
And none in all the province could compare
With the sleek Hyson, or Bohea the fair.
Both born and bred away from city's scene,
Though town-bred youth might call young Hyson green,
Though town-bred dames with scornful eyes might see
And dub his country love, 'poor, weak, Bohea,'
Enough for them the charms within their reach,
Enough for them that each was loved by each.
Yet 'neath some evil star their love arose :
Though they were dearest friends, their sires were foes.
The cause of their dear friendship is not hidden-
Both young, both comely, and their love forbidden.
The cause their sires were foes is still more plain-
Both had one trade, and both lived in one lane-
One village lane some ly from Nanking's walling,
And manufacturing porcelain was their calling;
Both shone in that like two superior stars,
And so between them they had many jars.
Old age and youth!-oh! that is formed for strife,
This-this for love, the bird's-nest-soup of life!
And should the truth before those sires be set,
How well their children loved, how oft they met,
Not locusts, dragons, Tartars could compare
With the fierce wrath of that grey-pigtailed pair.
But with a cautious care the maid and spark
Deceived their sires, and kept them in the dark;
Made assignations with a code of signs;
And met by moonlight among groves and vines,
Oft-oft they met, in copse, and grove, and glen:
Oft-oft they met, and vowed to meet again;
Beneath the stars they met, and talked of love,-
Beneath the stars,-for could they meet above?
They talked of love; and each loved each,--no doubt
Within their hearts,-for could they love without?
The days passed on,-the nights flew likewise by !-
Weeks passed, and months: and still they met to sigh
And dream of bliss. Young Hyson! fond Bohea!
In vain ye dream of bliss that must not be.
One night, that gloomy night no bat* would flit,
But crows around flew late, and oft alit;
And winds breathed loud in melancholy wail,-
A treacherous friend had told their tender tale,
A treacherous friend, to whom Bohea confessed
With too fond trust the secrets of her breast,-
Though bound to silence by the holiest oath,
That friend, too treacherous, had betrayed them both;
Told more, much more than need the muse repeat,
And where they met, and where they next should meet.
Bohea had told her all, and told her true :
Bohea knew not that friend loved Hyson too.
Unwise Bohea! your error now is learned;
Too soon committed, and too late discerned:
Too soon you trusted, and too late you vex:
Yet not in you the fault, but in your sex.
Each fair one of some secret thus possest,
Whilst all the charge is hers, can take no rest;
So, prizing it more dearly than her peepers,
To make it safer, finds it several keepers.
That night, that gloomy night, that night of mist,
Bohea and Hyson sought their place of tryst:
Bowered with green leaves, and far from haunts of men,
That place of tryst was no tryst place till then.
Just at the self-same moment both came there,
Each each beheld, and bade the devil take care.
O Hyson bold! O fair and fond Bohea!
Do ye take care, for fear the devil take ye.
They rushed to meet, they almost met; delight
Was in their looks. How was't they met not quite ?
What was't that checked their speed at once and joy,
And made them pause,—that maiden and her boy?
For such effect cause strong and good was there;
One hand had grasped Bohea by her long hair,
And kept her from her love, the fond, the true:
And one stern fist held Hyson by the queue.
In China, bats are considered creatures of good omen; but crows (with the exception of that white-necked species of which mention was made in the story of
Ho.Fi' in last month's Miscellany,) are regarded as birds of very evil augury.
Their bliss was baulk'd, their hearts were filled with doubt,
Their heads were hurt,-and both shrieked loudly out!
Yes, 'twas their sires: their sires had heard their tale
From that false friend,-and both with rage turn'd pale;
But both resolved to learn the story's truth
Ere one condemned the maid, or one the youth.
With this intent they both had sought that spot:
Oh fair Bohea's and Hyson's evil lot!
Just ere they met,-alas, too faithful pair!
Those two sprang forth, and seiz'd them by the hair.
By hers Bohea's stern father dragg'd her home,
And question'd as they went how dared she roam
To meet young sparks by moonlight in a glen,
And why that youth, of all the race of men?
Arrived at home, he tied her to a post
By those sweet locks young Hyson prized the most;
Removed her scissors from the unhappy fair,
And bound her hands, lest these unbind her hair.
Withheld her rice and pipe, and barr'd her door,
Until she vow'd she ne'er would do so more.
And Hyson's father let not him go free,
But brought him home, and strapp'd him to a tree
By his long queue,-ah me, that it would moult!
For, fasten'd by that lock he could not bolt.
Then as a thresher whirls round in a trice
The ponderous flail and threshes out the rice,
So, whirling round his head a stout bamboo,
He thrash'd his son; his son who dared to woo.
The youth, when 'gainst his ears he felt the cane,
(Against his ears was much against the grain,)
Shriek'd out an oath he'd never do't again.
Ah! cruel sires, ye act the unwisest parts,
And little know what love will teach young hearts.
That self-same night, when all were lock'd in sleep,
The sad Bohea, who stay'd awake to weep,
Rose from her couch, and lest her shoes might klop,
'Padded the hoof,' and sought her father's shop.
High in the midst a tea-pot huge was placed,
Of finest porcelain and superior taste;
In forming which it was her sire's fond aim
To win at once more custom and more fame.
So water-pots and boots of giant size
Oft hang from shops to attract the passer's eyes.
To turn it to some use, besides mere show,
Just at this time he made it a depôt
* The grain (ricè) has been said to be trodden out sometimes by cattle; but the
most usual implement for threshing is the common European flail.'
DAVIS's Chinese, chap. xxi.
For certain tea, some four-and-twenty lbs.
Dried by himself-the produce of his grounds.
There came Bohea, the beautiful! the sweet!
And standing on the tips of her small feet,
Scarce knowing what to do or how begin,-
She lifted up the cover, and look'd in.
Then went she thence,-she was her father's daughter,-
And, one by one, fetch'd several pails of water,
And emptied in ;-but slow the water rose,
And soon she brought this labour to a close.
Oh! vain,' she cried, with destiny to cope!
This tea-pot, too, was form'd to baulk my hope.
At such a rate as this, oh! Fortune's spite!
I scarce should fill it should I toil all night.
I hoped in this to bid my sorrows flee;
But fate forbids: unfortunate Bohea!'
She clasp'd her fair hands like some stage adept,
Lean'd on the porcelain, rais'd her eyes, and wept.
The tears went down her cheeks in such array
As floods roll down when river-banks give way.
Oh! joy, Bohea! thy woes shall find their bar,
Those tears in quick streams gush'd into the jar.
So hot they fell, so large, and fast, and free,
They fill'd the porcelain pot,-and made the tea.
'Is't true?' she cried. Then Fo hath heard my prayer-
Come back, sweet Hope! and hence, far hence, Despair!
If but my act shall prompt the youth I love,
Though parted here, we soon may meet above.*
So now of friends and foes I take my leave,
And drown myself to make my father grieve.'
She climb'd a chair beside the tea-pot's brim;
She plunged-she sank-alas! she could not swim.
White gleam'd her robes amid the watery gleam-
The steam arose-her breath rose with the steam.
No corks were there, no bladders, and no stick;
Three times she kick'd, and then she ceased to kick.
Strong was the tea-pot, and in vain she struck it,
And her last kick kick'd that, and kick'd the bucket.
As leaves of tea, long twisted and curl'd up,
Swell and unroll in tea-pot or in cup,-
Though downward bent her toes had long perforce lain,
She turn'd them up in that said piece of porcelain.
Perchance this tale improbable appears;
Yet think how often maids are drown'd in tears.
* It is specifically urged against the doctrines of Fo by the Confucians, that they unfit men for the business and duties of life, by fixing their speculations so entirely on another state of existence, as to lead some fanatics to hang or drown themselves, in order to anticipate futurity; nay, two persons have been known to commit suicide together, with a view to becoming man and wife in the next world.'-Davis's Chinese, Chap. xiv.
Then deem it true, and weep for poor Bohea,-
First drown'd in tears, then both in tears and tea.
Young Hyson heard-for ill news travels fast-
Young Hyson heard--young Hyson stood aghast.
He swore, he raved, he stamp'd, he tore his hair,—
That one long look, he scream'd,-he cursed the chair
That helped her up, he cursed his evil lot,
He cursed the tea, he also cursed its pot.
He strove to weep,-but strove to weep in vain—
There seem'd to glow hot lava in his brain,
Volcano fires before his eyes to start,
And more than earthquake to convulse his heart.
He strove to speak-but, oh! no voice would come;
He strove again-his words were 'ha' and 'Hum.'
Once more he strove ;-at last the fetters broke
That bound his speech,-he strove to speak-and spoke.-
'Oh! thou white lump of sugar !* thrown too soon
To sweeten tea-(ah! would I were thy spoon !)→
Thou for whose sake my grief must e'er keep hot,
Why didst thou fall in that detested tea-pot?
Alas! no power may bring her back to life,
Who was my love, who should have been my wife-
Who should have been-Ah me! but what avails
She should have been, since Death hath turn'd the scales-
Hath turn'd the scales betwixt despair and Hope,
And left me naught to do on earth-but mope.
But mope!-but mope! And was I born for this"?
Away with words, since she is lost and bliss-
Away with words, with life-in brief, with breath—
Naught now is left worth living for, save death!
Though foes should gladden, and though friends should weep,
If fires be hot, knives sharp, or opium cheap,
If wolves be fierce, wells deep, or girdles strong,
Then farewell, life!-thou shalt not hold me long.'
Thus spoke the youth, then rose from where he sat,
And rush'd away-the wind bore off his hat.
He heeded not-he rush'd, and on the wind
His clothes flew out, his pigtail stream'd behind-
Long, black, and fluttering with his speed it stream'd,
And head and pig-tail some huge tadpole seem'd,
Or comet grim, dread portent of the skies,--
Its tail the pig-tail, and its light his eyes.
Thus on he flew, and did not turn, or stop,
Or pause, till, lo! he reach'd a blacksmith's shop-
There check'd his steps. 'Hillo!' but no reply--
'What, hoa! who waits ?--his loud voice rent the sky.
This metaphorical apostrophe, which occurs in the original of Tee-To-Tum, and which all must acknowledge to be a very sweet one, is the more remarkable, as the Chinese are not in the habit of taking sugar in their tea.