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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

The Days of Grogram Grandames

By William Irving (1766–1821)

[Born in New York, N. Y., 1766. Died there, 1821. “From the Mill of Pindar Cockloft, Esq.” Salmagundi. 1807.]

HOW oft in musing mood my heart recalls,

From gray-beard Father Time’s oblivious halls,

The modes and maxims of my early day,

Long in those dark recesses stowed away:

Drags once more to the cheerful realms of light

Those buckram fashions, long since lost in night,

And makes, like Endor’s witch, once more to rise

My grogram grandames to my raptured eyes!

Shades of my fathers! in your pasteboard skirts,

Your broidered waistcoats and your plaited shirts,

Your formal bag-wigs—wide-extended cuffs,

Your five-inch chitterlings and nine-inch ruffs!

Gods! how ye strut, at times, in all your state,

Amid the visions of my thoughtful pate!

I see ye move the solemn minuet o’er,

The modest foot scarce rising from the floor;

No thundering rigadoon with boisterous prance,

No pigeon-wing, disturb your coutre-danse,

But, silent as the gentle Lethe’s tide,

Adown the festive maze ye peaceful glide!

Still in my mental eye each name appears—

Each modest beauty of departed years;

Close by mamma I see her stately march,

Or sit, in all the majesty of starch;

When for the dance a stranger seeks her hand,

I see her doubting, hesitating, stand,—

Yield to his claim with most fastidious grace,

And sigh for her intended in his place!

Oh! golden days; when every gentle fair

On sacred Sabbath conned with pious care

Her Holy Bible, or her prayer-book o’er,

Or studied honest Bunyan’s drowsy lore;

Travelled with him the Pilgrim’s Progress through,

And stormed the famous town of Man-Soul too:

Beat Eye- and Ear-gate up with thundering jar,

And fought triumphant through the Holy War;

Or if, perchance, to lighter works inclined,

They sought with novels to relax the mind,

’Twas Grandison’s politely formal page,

Or Clelia or Pamela were the rage.

No plays were then—theatrics were unknown;

A learned pig—a dancing monkey shown—

The feats of Punch—a cunning juggler’s sleight,

Were sure to fill each bosom with delight.

An honest, simple, humdrum race we were,

Undazzled yet by fashion’s wildering glare.