Mary Thomas’ poem about the killing of her cat


From Mary Thomas’ journal entry of 2 August 1836:

Who killed my cat? Suppose I tell;
Unless deceived, I know full well;
But you, perhaps, may guess the plot
When I have told you who ‘twas not.
‘Twas not the captain nor the mate,
For they, I’m sure, had no such hate,
But both expressed their deep regret
That Puss with such a fate had met.
‘Twas not the steward; he desired
That she should every day be fed,
And said, ‘I tink dat man so bad
Who dared do wicked act so sad.’
‘Twas not the sailors; one and all
They would apprehend a squall,
And vow that man should drowned be
Who threw a cat into the sea.
‘Twas non who in the steerage dwelt,
For they had more humanely felt,
And all, with Nature’s truth inspired,
Her stripes and beauty much admired.
Who was it, then, who killed my cat?
I can’t exactly answer that,
The miscreant tell; but this I know:
That it was someone here below.
To surgeons it does not belong
So wantonly to do such wrong,
And none, I’m sure, of that profession
Would guilty be of such aggression.
‘Twas not a youth, not yet a lad;
They would not do an act so bad.
I hope none on the starboard side
Has thrown my cat into the tide.
‘Twas not a Bishop, nor a Dean,
For none, as yet, on board we’ve seen;
Nor yet a Priest; but there are others,
In degrees of Holy Brothers.
Whoe’er it was, I almost wish
They were the victim to some fish,
To some hug monster made a prey,
Which no more pity had than they.
At all events, I hope for years
A mewing will ring in their ears;
Should thunders roll or winds be high,
Voice they my favorite’s piteous cry;
And when he’s on his deathbed laid,
And guilt makes every form a shade,
And conscience lays the sinner flat,
May he be haunted by a cat.

Scene: pomfrey's cat Pomfrey’s cat. by Edward Snell, 1849. Courtesy of Angus and Robertson Publishers.

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