‘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; 'tis 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!

All Directories