“Man wants but little here below” Little I ask; my wants are few; I only wish a hut of stone, (A very plain brown stone will do,) That I may call my own;— And close at hand is such a one, In yonder street that fronts the sun. Plain food is quite enough for me; Three courses are as good as ten;— If Nature can subsist on three, Thank Heaven for three. Amen! I always thought cold victual nice;— My choice would be vanilla-ice. I care not much for gold or land;— Give me a mortgage here and there,— Some good bank-stock, some note of hand, Or trifling railroad share,— I only ask that Fortune send A little more than I shall spend. Honors are silly toys, I know, And titles are but empty names; I would, perhaps, be Plenipo,— But only near St. James; I’m very sure I should not care To fill our Gubernator’s chair. Jewels are baubles; ’t is a sin To care for such unfruitful things;— One good-sized diamond in a pin,— Some, not so large, in rings,— A ruby, and a pearl, or so, Will do for me;—I laugh at show. My dame should dress in cheap attire; (Good, heavy silks are never dear;)— I own perhaps I might desire Some shawls of true Cashmere,— Some marrowy crapes of China silk, Like wrinkled skins on scalded milk. I would not have the horse I drive So fast that folks must stop and stare; An easy gait—two forty-five— Suits me; I do not care;— Perhaps, for just a single spurt, Some seconds less would do no hurt. Of pictures, I should like to own Titians and Raphaels three or four,— I love so much their style and tone, One Turner, and no more, (A landscape,—foreground golden dirt,— The sunshine painted with a squirt.) Of books but few,—some fifty score For daily use, and bound for wear; The rest upon an upper floor;— Some little luxury there Of red morocco’s gilded gleam And vellum rich as country cream. Busts, cameos, gems,—such things as these, Which others often show for pride, I value for their power to please, And selfish churls deride;— One Stradivarius, I confess, Two Meerschaums, I would fain possess. Wealth’s wasteful tricks I will not learn, Nor ape the glittering upstart fool;— Shall not carved tables serve my turn, But all must be of buhl? Give grasping pomp its double share,— I ask but one recumbent chair. Thus humble let me live and die, Nor long for Midas’ golden touch; If Heaven more generous gifts deny, I shall not miss them much,— Too grateful for the blessing lent Of simple tastes and mind content!
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