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A Storm At Hastings, And The Little Unknown
by [?]

‘Twas August–Hastings every day was filling–
Hastings, that “greenest spot on memory’s waste”!
With crowds of idlers willing and unwilling
To be bedipped–be noticed–or be braced,
And all things rose a penny in a shilling.
Meanwhile, from window, and from door, in haste
“Accommodation bills” kept coming down,
Gladding “the world of-letters” in that town.

Each day poured in new coachfuls of new cits,
Flying from London smoke and dust annoying,
Unmarried Misses hoping to make hits,
And new-wed couples fresh from Tunbridge toying,
Lacemen and placemen, ministers and wits,
And Quakers of both sexes, much enjoying
A morning’s reading by the ocean’s rim,
That sect delighting in the sea’s broad brim.

And lo! amongst all these appeared a creature,
So small, he almost might a twin have been
With Miss Crachami–dwarfish quite in stature,
Yet well proportioned–neither fat nor lean,
His face of marvellously pleasant feature,
So short and sweet a man was never seen–
All thought him charming at the first beginning–
Alas, ere long they found him far too winning!

He seemed in love with chance–and chance repaid
His ardent passion with her fondest smile,
The sunshine of good luck, without a shade,
He staked and won–and won and staked–the bile
It stirred of many a man and many a maid,
To see at every venture how that vile
Small gambler snatched–and how he won them too–
A living Pam, omnipotent at loo!

Miss Wiggins set her heart upon a box,
‘Twas handsome rosewood, and inlaid with brass,
And dreamt three times she garnished it with stocks
Of needles, silks, and cottons–but, alas!
She lost it wide awake. We thought Miss Cox
Was lucky–but she saw three caddies pass
To that small imp;–no living luck could loo him!
Sir Stamford would have lost his Raffles to him!

And so he climbed–and rode–and won–and walked,
The wondrous topic of the curious swarm
That haunted the Parade. Many were balked
Of notoriety by that small form
Pacing it up and down: some even talked
Of ducking him–when lo! a dismal storm
Stopped in–one Friday, at the close of day–
And every head was turned another way–

Watching the grander guest. It seemed to rise
Bulky and slow upon the southern brink
Of the horizon–fanned by sultry sighs–
So black and threatening, I cannot think
Of any simile, except the skies
Miss Wiggins sometimes shades in Indian ink–
Mis-shapen blotches of such heavy vapor,
They seem a deal more solid than her paper.

As for the sea, it did not fret, and rave,
And tear its waves to tatters, and so dash on
The stony-hearted beach;–some bards would have
It always rampant, in that idle fashion–
Whereas the waves rolled in, subdued and grave,
Like schoolboys, when the master’s in a passion,
Who meekly settle in and take their places,
With a very quiet awe on all their faces.

Some love to draw the ocean with a head,
Like troubled table-beer–and make it bounce,
And froth, and roar, and fling–but this, I’ve said,
Surged in scarce rougher than a lady’s flounce:
But then, a grander contrast thus it bred
With the wild welkin, seeming to pronounce
Something more awful in the serious ear,
As one would whisper that a lion’s near–

Who just begins to roar: so the hoarse thunder
Growled long–but low–a prelude note of death,
As if the stifling clouds yet kept it under,
But still it muttered to the sea beneath
Such a continued peal, as made us wonder
It did not pause more oft to take its breath,
Whilst we were panting with the sultry weather,
And hardly cared to wed two words together,