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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Old Sedan-Chair

By Henry Austin Dobson (1840–1921)

  • “What’s not destroyed by Time’s devouring Hand?
  • Where’s Troy,—and where’s the May-Pole in the Strand?”

  • IT stands in the stable-yard, under the eaves,

    Propped up by a broomstick and covered with leaves;

    It once was the pride of the gay and the fair,

    But now ’tis a ruin,—that old Sedan-chair!

    It is battered and tattered,—it little avails

    That once it was lacquered, and glistened with nails;

    For its leather is cracked into lozenge and square

    Like a canvas by Wilkie,—that old Sedan-chair.

    See, here come the bearing-straps; here were the holes

    For the poles of the bearers—when once there were poles;

    It was cushioned with silk, it was wadded with hair,

    As the birds have discovered,—that old Sedan-chair.

    “Where’s Troy?” says the poet! Look; under the seat

    Is a nest with four eggs; ’tis a favored retreat

    Of the Muscovy hen, who has hatched, I dare swear,

    Quite an army of chicks in that old Sedan-chair.

    And yet—Can’t you fancy a face in the frame

    Of the window,—some high-headed damsel or dame,

    Be-patched and be-powdered, just set by the stair,

    While they raise up the lid of that old Sedan-chair?

    Can’t you fancy Sir Plume, as beside her he stands,

    With his ruffles a-droop on his delicate hands,

    With his cinnamon coat, with his laced solitaire,

    As he lifts her out light from that old Sedan-chair?

    Then it swings away slowly. Ah, many a league

    It has trotted ’twixt sturdy-legged Terence and Teague;

    Stout fellows!—but prone, on a question of fare,

    To brandish the poles of that old Sedan-chair!

    It has waited by portals where Garrick has played;

    It has waited by Heidegger’s “Grand Masquerade”;

    For my Lady Codille, for my Lady Bellair,

    It has waited—and waited, that old Sedan-chair!

    Oh, the scandals it knows! Oh, the tales it could tell

    Of Drum and Ridotto, of Rake and of Belle,—

    Of Cock-fight and Levee, and (scarcely more rare!)

    Of Fête-days at Tyburn, that old Sedan-chair!

    “Heu! quantum mutata,” I say as I go.

    It deserves better fate than a stable-yard, though!

    We must furbish it up, and dispatch it,—“With Care,”—

    To a Fine-Art Museum—that old Sedan-chair.