Henry Salt Archive

Henry Salt (1853-1939) was the author of the Life of Henry David Thoreau, Animals Rights and A Plea for Vegetarianism which inspired Gandhi for follow a vegetarian diet.

Feathertop

(Adapted from Nathaniel Hawthorne's story.)

It was ages and ages ago,
When witches and wonders abounded,
Mother Rigby, her cunning to show,
A marvelious scarecrow compounded,
No commonplace puppet, I ween,
Was Feathertop, fashioned so handy,
For the sum of all witchcraft was seen
In this aristocratical dandy.

To describe him what words can avail ?
A broomstick his backbone provided ;
Each arm was a broken-down flail ;
His legs were hoe-handles lop-sided.
His heart was a bagful of straw ;
His head was was a shrivelled old pumpkin ;
His lordly demeanour struck awe
To the breast of each lowly-born bumpkin.

Then the Mother surveyed him with pride,
His glorious future foreseeing ;
A cigar to his mouth she applied,
For smoke was the breath of his being.
She gave him a glossy black hat,
Fine coat, and immaculate breeches ;
Stiff collar, and silken cravat,
And the boon of unlimited riches.

Through 'Society,' day after day,
She bade him go aimlessly walking ;
Though he'd nothing whatever to say,
She set him incessantly talking ;
And I vow that each lady he met
Believed that he did her an honour,
When he simpered, and chattered, and set
His lustreless visage upon her.

Did I say it was ages ago ?
Then surely the fact I'd forgotten
That he's seen to this day in the Row,
Which is rightly distinguished as Rotten
There he struts, and he smirks, and he brags,
Forgetting his true combination,
For he's nought but a parcel of rags—
Mother Rigby's fantastic creation.

H. S. S.
Justice, March 21, 1885 - No. 62