Allegory of the Purity, ca. 1850, Italy, Frame could be English, sardonyx shell, 2 ¾" by just over 2 3/8", Depicting the Allegory of the Purity, a young maiden holding a dove, which is the symbol of the purity. There is an engraving on the frame, it reads Margt Emily Mather, maybe Margt stays for Margot. To write it the frame was cut and then replaced in its own place.
From mere ennui the very cat
Walked out—it was so precious flat.
Due on the sofa Gabriel sat,
And next to him was Stephens found;
I think, but am not certain, that
The fender William’s legs were round.
However, all was drowsy, mild,
And nothing like to break the charm,
Though John essayed in some alarm
To read his latest muse-born child;
Then Gabriel moved his active arm,
And some believe that Stephens smiled.
But certain ‘tis that Aleck, who
Had watched that arm, as anglers do
Their quiet gloat, an hour or two,
Was pleased to find it move at last.
He therefore filled his pipe anew,
And doubled the mundungus blast.
The poem yet went on and on:
The poet kept his eyes upon
The paper till the piece was done;
And then the coke-fire’s roof fell in.
Another accident, which one
Should mention, William scorched his shin.
And nothing more till supper time:
Except that Gabriel read a rhyme
Of Hell and Heaven and ghosts and crime
That gave the room a kind of chill,
And rapture followed—so sublime
That forty minutes all was still.
Till all the solemn company
Went down to supper—verily
The supper went off quietly.
Trying to talk was all in vain:
And then we went up silently
Into the lonesome room again.
Oh was it quiet? I can swear
I heard the separate gas lights flare,
The creak of the vibrating chair
The balanced Aleck swung upon:
The balanced Aleck swinging there
Knew it, and so went swinging on.
Six men, each seated in his seat,
With body, arms, and legs complete—
A passive mass of flesh, alack!
That none but human cattle make!
The wonder was that they could meet
So silent and so long awake.
But Gabriel coiled himself, at last,
Upon the sofa—Stephens cast
His weary arms out, William past
A thoughtful hand across his eyes,
And George has blown a fainter blast
To listen till the snores arise.
And somewhat quickly they arose—
He could distinguish Gabriel’s nose
From William’s mouth in sweet repose,
Whose measured murmurs now began;
While John L. Tupper, half in dose,
Was crooning as he only can.
And Stephens—no, he took to flight
Before he slept. Then Aleck’s sight
Denied his pipe was yet alight;
He put it down and grimly stared,
Then crammed it to the muzzle tight,
And listened—that was all he dared.
For not a waking P. R. B.
Was left; a blinding mystery
Of smoke was over all the three
Enduring souls that kept awake.
They listened—'twas the harmony
Of cats!—or there was some mistake.
Then looking on the garden plot
Without, they verified the not
Unwelcome fact: the cats had got
Convivial, sure enough; and we
Could recognize friend Thomas hot
In mirth like Burns “among the three.”
But if the cats held conference,
What then? We might not make pretence
To such — witness the prudent sense
Of Stephens getting up to go.
I’d give my cat the preference,
Who left us somewhat sooner, though.