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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

On the Fly-Leaf of a Book of Old Plays

By Walter Learned (1847–1915)

[From Between Times. 1889.]

AT Cato’s Head in Russel Street

These leaves she sat a-stitching;

I fancy she was trim and neat,

Blue-eyed and quite bewitching.

Before her, in the street below,

All powder, ruffs, and laces,

There strutted idle London beaux

To ogle pretty faces;

While, filling many a Sedan chair

With hoop and monstrous feather,

In patch and powder London’s fair

Went trooping past together.

Swift, Addison, and Pope, mayhap

They sauntered slowly past her,

Or printer’s boy, with gown and cap

For Steele, went trotting faster.

For beau nor wit had she a look,

Nor lord nor lady minding;

She bent her head above this book,

Attentive to her binding.

And one stray thread of golden hair,

Caught on her nimble fingers,

Was stitched within this volume, where

Until to-day it lingers.

Past and forgotten, beaux and fair;

Wigs, powder, all out-dated;

A queer antique, the Sedan chair;

Pope, stiff and antiquated.

Yet, as I turn these odd old plays,

This single stray lock finding,

I’m back in those forgotten days

And watch her at her binding.