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It was an idle morn in Coventry,

The people wander'd through the gloomy mart;
Labour with hope was o'er, and listlessly

Their footsteps travers’d each unheeded part; Despair was yielding fast to apathy

They were prepar'd to die,--and every heart
Its weight of woe had half forgot to feel,-
When in their ears shrill rung a trumpet-peal.

There was a sudden crowding round the space

Whence the sound came and then from man to man, Throughout the full and spacious market-place,

A sudden, cold, electric shudder ran;
And each glanc'd quickly on his neighbour's face,

As if the working of his thought to scan,-
And then in every countenance were blent
Joy, love, and anger, and astonishment. .

A breathless pause succeeded, -then arose

A low and gathering murmur in the crowd,
Like the far peal that breaks the dread repose

Cast by the shadow of a thunder-cloud :
And fast and far that thrilling murmur flows

On through the multitude-yet grows not loud-
Slowly it died,—and nought but trampling feet
Of crowds dispersing sounded in the street.

Noon came, yet ne'er in Coventry had reign'd

At deepest midnight silence so profound;
In the wide streets no human form remain'd,

It seem'd as Death had swallow'd all around :
It was like that enchanted city, feign'd

In Oriental Tales, where all were bound
In magic slumbers, and transform'd to stone-
A story pretty generally known.

What were Godiva's thoughts at that dread hour

In her lone chamber? Silent did she kneel,
Her deep blue eyes rais'd meekly to the Power

Of Heaven, in dumb, yet eloquent appeal.
Thus pray'd the gentle lady in her bower,

Till o'er her sorrows peace began to steal,
And the calm rapture of the silent skies
Had sunk into her spirit through her eyes.,

The lady rose from prayer, with cheek o'erflush’d,

all radiant with celestial fire,
The anguish'd beatings of her heart were hush'd,

So calmly heavenward did her thoughts aspire. A moment's pause--and then she deeply blush'd,

As, trembling, she unclasp'd her rich attire,
And, shrinking from the sunlight, shone confest
The ripe and dazzling beauties of her breast,

And when her white and radiant limbs lay bare,

The fillet from her brow the dame unbound,
And let the traces of her raven hair

Flow down in wavy lightness to the ground,
Till half they veil'd her limbs and bosom fair,

In dark and shadowy beauty floating round,
As clouds, in the still firmament of June,
Shade the pale splendors of the midnight Moon.

But then her spirit fell when thus alone

She stood in the deep silence of her bower,
And felt that there she was beheld by none

Save One unknown, supreme, eternal Power. She dar'd not raise her meek eyes, trembling one,

Again from earth; she could have wish'd that hour Rather in view of thousands to have stood, Than in that still and awful solitude.

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Away-away, with wild and hurried pace,

Through many a long and echoing room she stole; No voice arrests her ear, no human face

Bursts on the dreamy wildness of her soul. All silent now is that proud dwelling-place,

On-on she presses till she reach the goal ;
The portal's past—she sees her palfrey stand,
Held by a weak and weeping maiden's hand.

Away, away!—the Lady hath departed ;

The freedom of the land will soon be won:
Rejoice, ye wrong'd, and spurn’d, and broken-hearted,

Rejoice!—for your deliverance is begun. It's full five minutes since Godiva started,

She'll be among you before half-past one;
Therefore, take care, both bachelors and spouses,
All but the blind, to keep within your houses.

Godiva páss’d, but all had disappear’d,

Each in his dwelling's innermost recess :
One would have thought all mortal eyes had fear'd

To gaze upon her dazzling loveliness.
Sudden her palfrey stopp'd, and neigh’d, and rear’d,

And prick'd his ears—as if he would express
That there was something wicked in the wind;
Godiva trembled and held fast behind.

And here I also must remark that this is

With ladies very frequently the case,
And beg to hint to all Equestrian Misses,

That horses' backs are not their proper place.
A woman's forte is music-love-or kisses,

Not leaping gates, or galloping a race ;
I used sometimes to ride with them of yore,
And always found them an infernal bore.

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The steed grew quiet, and a piercing cry

Burst on Godiva's ear ;-she started, and
Beheld a man, who, in a window high,

Shaded his dim eyes with his trembling hand.
He had been led by curiosity

To see her pass, and there had ta'en his stand;
And as he gaz'd ('tis thus the story's read),
His eye-balls sunk and shrivell’d in his head.

I know not, gentles, whether this be true;

If so, you'll own the punishment was just ;
Poor wretch!—full dearly had he cause to rue

His prying temper, or unbridled lust.
No more could he his daily toil pursue-

He was a tinker-but his tools might rust,
He might dispose of all his stock of metal,
For ne'er, thenceforward, could he mend a kettle.

Alas! poor Peeping Tom !—Godiva kept

And fed him.-Reader, now my tale is told;
I need not state how all the peasants wept,

And laugh’d, and blest their Countess—young and old. That night Godiva very soundly slept

I grieve to add she caught a trifling cold ;
Leofric's heart was so extremely full,
He roasted for the populace a bull.

There stood an ancient cross at Coventry,

Pull'd down, of late, by order of the Mayor,
Because 'twas clear its downfall must be nigh,

And 'twould be too expensive to repair ;
It bore two figures carv'd—and you might spy

Beneath them grav'd, in letters large and fair,
Godiva, Leofric, for love of thee,

Both make henceforth fair Coventry toll free.


The tale's believ'd by all the population,

And still a sham Godiva, every year,
Is carried by the Mayor and Corporation

In grand procession—and the mob get beer.
Gentles, I've spent my fit of inspiration,

Which being over, I must leave you here ; And for Godiva-hope you'll decent think her, Laugh at her husband, and forgive the tinker.

G. M.

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