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Bent on some mortgage (to avoid reproach)
He seeks by-streets, and saves th' expensive coach.
Soft, at low doors, old lechers tap their cane,
For fair recluse, who travels Drury-lane;
Here roams uncomb'd the lavish rake, to shun
His Fleet-street draper's everlasting dun.
Careful observers, studious of the town,
Shun the misfortunes that disgrace the clown;
Untempted, they contemn the juggler's feats,
Pass by the Meuse, nor try the thimble's cheats ;*
When drays bound high, they never cross behind,
Where bubbling yest is blown by gusts of wind:
And when up Ludgate-hill huge carts move slow,
Far from the straining steeds securely go,
Whose dashing hoofs behind them fling the mire,
And mark with muddy blots the gazing 'squire.
The Parthian thus his javelin backward throws,
And as he flies infests pursuing foes.
The thoughtless wits shall frequent forfeits pay,
Who 'gainst the sentry's box discharge their tea.
Do thou some court or secret corner seek,
Nor flush with shame the passing virgin's cheek.
Yet let me not descend to trivial song,
Nor vulgar circumstance my verse prolong.
Why should I teach the maid, when torrents pour,
Her head to shelter from the sudden shower?
Nature will best her ready hand inform,
With her spread petticoat to fence the storm.
Does not each walker know the warning sign,
When wisps of straw depend upon the twine
Cross the close street, that then the paver's art
Renews the ways, denied to coach and cart?
Who knows not that the coachman lashing by
Oft with his flourish cuts the heedless eye;
And when he takes his stand, to wait a fare,
His horses' foreheads shun the Winter's air?
Nor will I roam where Summer's sultry rays
Parch the dry ground, and spread with dust the
With whirling gusts the rapid atoms rise,
Smoke o'er the pavement, and involve the skies.
Winter my theme confines; whose nitry wind
Shall crust the slabby mire, and kennels bind;
She bids the snow descend in flaky sheets,
And in her hoary mantle clothe the streets.
Let not the virgin tread these slippery roads,
The gathering fleece the hollow patten loads;
But if thy footsteps slide with clotted frost,
Strike off the breaking balls against the post.
On silent wheels the passing coaches roll;
Oft look behind, and ward the threatening pole.
In harden'd orbs the school-boy moulds the snow,
To mark the coachman with a dextrous throw.
Why do ye, boys, the kennel's surface spread,
To tempt with faithless path the matron's tread?
How can you laugh to see the damsel spurn,
Sink in your frauds, and her green stocking mourn?
At White's the harness'd chairman idly stands,
And swings around his waist his tingling hands;
The sempstress speeds to Change with red-tipt nose;
The Belgian stove beneath her footstool glows;
In half-whipt muslin needles useless lie,
And shuttle-cocks across the counter fly. [prove,
These sports warm harmless; why then will ye
Deluded maids, the dangerous flame of love?
Columns with plain magnificence appear,
And graceful porches lead along the square:
Here oft my course I bend; when, lo! from far
I spy the furies of the foot-ball war:
The prentice quits his shop, to join the crew,
Increasing crowds the flying game pursue.
Thus, as you roll the ball o'er snowy ground,
The gathering globe augments with every round.
But whither shall I run? the throng draws nigh,
The ball now skims the street, now soars on high;
The dext'rous glazier strong returns the bound,
And jingling sashes on the penthouse sound.
O, roving Muse! recall that wondrous year,
When Winter reign'd in bleak Britannia's air;
When hoary Thames, with frosted csiers crown'd,
Was three long moons in icy fetters bound.
The waterman, forlorn, along the shore,
Pensive reclines upon his useless oar;
See harness'd steeds desert the stony town,
And wander roads unstable, not their own;
Wheels o'er the harden'd waters smoothly glide,
And rase with whiten'd tracks the slippery tide;
Here the fat cook piles high the blazing fire,
And scarce the spit can turn the steer entire ;
Booths sudden hide the Thames, long streets appear,
And numerous games proclaim the crowded fair.
So, when a general bids the martial train
Spread their encampment o'er the spacious plain;
Thick rising tents a canvas city build,
And the loud dice resound through all the field.
"Twas here the matron found a doleful fate:
Let elegiac lay the woe relate,
Soft as the breath of distant flutes, at hours
When silent evening closes up the flowers;
Lulling as falling water's hollow noise;
Indulging grief, like Philomela's voice.
Doll every day had walk'd these treacherous
Her neck grew warpt beneath autumnal loads
Of various fruit: she now a basket bore;
That head, alas! shall basket bear no more.
Each booth she frequent past, in quest of gain,
And boys with pleasure heard her shrilling strain.
Ah, Doll! all mortals must resign their breath,
And industry itself submit to death!
Where Covent-garden's famous temple stands, That boasts the work of Jones' immortal hands;
The cracking crystal yields; she sinks, she dies,
Her head, chopt off, from her lost shoulders flies;
Pippins she cried; but death her voice confounds,
And pip-pip-pip along the ice resounds.
So, when the Thracian furies Orpheus tore,
And left his bleeding trunk deform'd with gore,
His sever'd head floats down the silver tide,
His yet warm tongue for his lost consort cried;
Euridice with quivering voice he mourn'd,
And Heber's banks Euridice return'd.
But now the western gale the flood unbinds,
And blackening clouds move on with warmer winds;
The wooden town its frail foundation leaves,
And Thames' full urn rolls down his plenteous
From every penthouse streams the fleeting snow,
And with dissolving frost the pavements flow.
Experienc'd men, inur'd to city ways,
Need not the calendar to count their days.
When through the town, with slow and solemn air
Led by the nostril, walks the muzzled bear;
Behind him moves, majestically dull,
The pride of Hockley-hole, the surly bull.
* A cheat commonly practised in the streets with three Learn hence the periods of the week to name, Mondays and Thursdays are the days of game.
thimbles and a little ball.
When fishy stalls with double store are laid; The golden-bellied carp, the broad-finn'd maid, Red-speckled trouts, the salmon's silver jowl, The jointed lobster, and unscaly sole, And luscious 'scallops to allure the tastes Of rigid zealots to delicious fasts; Wednesdays and Fridays, you'll observe from hence, Days when our sires were doom'd to abstinence.
When dirty waters from balconies drop, And dext'rous damsels twirl the sprinkling mop, And cleanse the spatter'd sash, and scrub the stairs, Know Saturday's conclusive morn appears.
Successive cries the seasons' change declare, And mark the monthly progress of the year. Hark! how the streets with treble voices ring, To sell the bounteous product of the Spring! Sweet-smelling flowers, and elder's early bud, With nettle's tender shoots, to cleanse the blood; And, when June's thunder cools the sultry skies, E'en Sundays are profan'd by mack'rel cries.
Walnuts the fruiterer's hand in Autumn stain, Blue plums and juicy pears augment his gain : Next oranges the longing boys entice, To trust their copper fortunes to the dice.
When rosemary, and bays, the poet's crown, Are bawl'd, in frequent cries, through all the town, Then judge the festival of Christmas near, Christmas, the joyous period of the year. Now with bright holly all your temples strow, With laurel green, and sacred misletoe. Now, heaven born Charity! thy blessings shed; Bid meagre Want uprear her sickly head; Bid shivering limbs be warm; let Plenty's bowl In humble roofs make glad the needy soul! See, see! the heaven-born maid her blessing shed; Lo, meagre Want uprears her sickly head; Cloth'd are the naked, and the needy glad, While selfish Avarice alone is sad.
Proud coaches pass, regardless of the moan Of infant orphans, and the widow's groan; While Charity still moves the walker's mind, His liberal purse relieves the lame and blind. Judiciously thy half-pence are bestow'd, Where the laborious beggar sweeps the road. Whate'er you give, give ever at demand, Nor let old age long stretch his palsied hand. Those who give late are importun'd each day, And still are teas'd, because they still delay. If e'er the miser durst his farthings spare, He thinly spreads them through the public square, Where, all beside the rail, rang'd beggars lie, And from each other catch the doleful cry; With Heaven, for two-pence, cheaply wipes his score, Lifts up his eyes, and hastes to beggar more.
Where the brass-knocker, wrapt in flannel band, Forbids the thunder of the footman's hand; Th' upholder, rueful harbinger of Death, Waits with impatience for the dying breath; As vultures o'er the camp, with hovering flight, Snuff up the future carnage of the fight. Here canst thou pass, unmindful of a prayer, That Heaven in mercy may thy brother spare?
Come, Fortescue, sincere, experienc'd friend, Thy briefs, thy deeds, and ev'n thy fees, suspend; Come, let us leave the Temple's silent walls, Me business to my distant lodging calls; Through the long Strand together let us stray; With thee conversing, I forget the way. Behold that narrow street which steep descends, Whose building to the slimy shore extends;
Here Arundel's fam'd structure rear'd its frame,
The street alone retains the empty name.
Where Titian's glowing paint the canvas warm'd,
And Raphael's fair design, with judgment charm'd,
Now hangs the bellman's song, and pasted here
The color'd prints of Overton appear.
Where statues breath'd the works of Phidias' hands,
A wooden pump, or lonely watch-house, stands.
There Essex' stately pile adorn'd the shore,
There Cecil's, Bedford's, Villiers', now no more.
Yet Burlington's fair palace still remains;
Beauty within, without proportion, reigns.
Beneath his eye declining art revives,
The wall with animated picture lives;
There Handel strikes the strings, the melting strain
Transports the soul, and thrills through every vein;
There oft I enter, (but with cleaner shoes,)
For Burlington 's belov'd by every Muse.
O ye associate walkers! O my friends!
Upon your state what happiness attends!
What though no coach to frequent visit rolls,
Nor for your shilling chairmen sling their poles;
Yet still your nerves rheumatic pains defy,
Nor lazy jaundice dulls your saffron eye;
No wasting cough discharges sounds of death,
Nor wheezing asthma heaves in vain for breath;
Nor from your restless couch is heard the groan
Of burning gout, or sedentary stone.
Let others in the jolting coach confide,
Or in the leaky boat the Thames divide;
Or, box'd within the chair, contemn the street,
And trust their safety to another's feet:
Still let me walk; for oft the sudden gale
Ruffles the tide, and shifts the dangerous sail;
Then shall the passenger too late deplore
The whelming billow, and the faithless oar;
The drunken chairman in the kennel spurns,
The glasses shatters, and his charge o'erturns.
Who can recount the coach's various harms,
The legs disjointed, and the broken arms?
I've seen a beau, in some ill-fated hour, When o'er the stones choak'd kennels swell the shower,
In gilded chariot loll; he with disdain
Views spatter'd passengers all drench'd in rain.
With mud fill'd high, the rumbling cart draws near;
Now rule thy prancing steeds, lac'd charioteer:
The dustman lashes on with spiteful rage,
His ponderous spokes thy painted wheel engage;
Crush'd is thy pride, down falls the shrieking beau,
The slabby pavement crystal fragments strow;
Black floods of mire th' embroider'd coat disgrace,
And mud enwraps the honors of his face.
So, when dread Jove the son of Phoebus hurl'd,
Scar'd with dark thunder, to the nether world,
The headstrong coursers tore the silver reins,
And the Sun's beamy ruin gilds the plains.
If the pale walker pant with weakening ills,
His sickly hand is stor'd with friendly bills: [fame,
From hence he learns the seventh-born doctor's
From hence he learns the cheapest tailor's name.
Shall the large mutton smoke upon your boards? Such Newgate's copious market best affords. Wouldst thou with mighty beef augment thy meal? Seek Leaden-hall; St. James's sends thee veal; Thames-street gives cheeses; Covent-garden, fruits; Moorfields, old books; and Monmouth-street, old suits.
Hence may'st thou well supply the wants of life, Support thy family, and clothe thy wife.
Volumes on shelter'd stalls expanded lie,
And various science lures the learned eye;
The bending shelves with ponderous scholiasts
And deep divines, to modern shops unknown;
Here, like the bee, that on industrious wing
Collects the various odors of the Spring,
Walkers at leisure, learning's flowers may spoil,
Nor watch the wasting of the midnight oil;
May morals snatch from Plutarch's tatter'd page,
A mildew'd Bacon, or Stagyra's sage:
Here sauntering prentices o'er Otway weep,
O'er Congreve smile, or over D'Urfey sleep;
Pleas'd semptresses the Lock's fam'd Rape unfold;
And Squirts read Garth, till apozems grow cold.
O Lintot! let my labors obvious lie,
Rang'd on thy stall, for every curious eye!
So shall the poor these precepts gratis know,
And to my verse their future safeties owe.
What walker shall his mean ambition fix
On the false lustre of a coach and six?
Let the vain virgin, lur'd by glaring show,
Sigh for the liveries of th' embroider'd beau.
See yon bright chariot on its braces swing,
With Flanders mares, and on an arched spring.
That wretch, to gain an equipage and place,
Betray'd his sister to a lewd embrace;
This coach, that with the blazon'd 'scutcheon glows,
Vain of his unknown race, the coxcomb shows.
Here the brib'd lawyer, sunk in velvet, sleeps ;
The starving orphan, as he passes, weeps;
There flames a fool, begirt with tinsel slaves,
Who wastes the wealth of a whole race of knaves;
That other, with a clustering train behind,
Owes his new honors to a sordid mind!
This next in court-fidelity excels,
The public rifles, and his country sells.
May the proud chariot never be my fate,
If purchas'd at so mean, so dear a rate!
Or rather give me sweet content on foot,
Wrapt in my virtue, and a good surtout!
Of walking the Streets by Night.
O TRIVIA, goddess! leave these low abodes, And traverse o'er the wide ethereal roads; Celestial queen! put on thy robes of light, Now Cynthia nam'd, fair regent of the night. At sight of thee, the villain sheathes his sword, Nor scales the wall, to steal the wealthy hoard. O may thy silver lamp from Heaven's high bower Direct my footsteps in the midnight hour!
When Night first bids the twinkling stars appear, Or with her cloudy vest enwraps the air, Then swarms the busy street; with caution tread, Where the shop-windows † falling threat thy head;| Now laborers home return, and join their strength To bear the tottering plank, or ladder's length; Still fix thy eyes intent upon the throng, And, as the passes, open, wind along.
Where the fair columns of St. Clement stand, Whose straiten'd bounds encroach upon the Strand; Where the low penthouse bows the walker's head, And the rough pavement wounds the yielding tread; Where not a post protects the narrow space, And, strung in twines, combs dangle in thy face;
* An apothecary's boy, in the Dispensary. A species of window now almost forgotten. N.
Summon at once thy courage, rouse thy care,
Stand firm, look back, be resolute, beware.
Forth issuing from steep lanes, the collier's steeds
Drag the black load; another cart succeeds;
Team follows team, crowds heap'd on crowds appear,
And wait impatient till the road grow clear.
Now all the pavement sounds with tramping feet,
And the mix'd hurry barricades the street.
Entangled here, the wagon's lengthen'd team
Cracks the tough harness; here a ponderous beam
Lies overturn'd athwart; for slaughter fed,
Here lowing bullocks raise their horned head.
Now oaths grow loud, with coaches coaches jar,
And the smart blow provokes the sturdy war;
From the high box they whirl the thong around,
And with the twining lash their shins resound:
Their rage ferments, more dangerous wounds they
And the blood gushes down their painful eye.
And now on foot the frowning warriors light,
And with their ponderous fists renew the fight;
Blow answers blow, their cheeks are smear'd with
Till down they fall, and grappling roll in mud.
So, when two boars, in wild Ytene* bred,
Or on Westphalia's fattening chestnuts fed,
Gnash their sharp tusks, and, rous'd with equal fire,
Dispute the reign of some luxurious mire ;
In the black flood they wallow o'er and o'er,
Till their arm'd jaws distil with foam and gore.
Where the mob gathers, swiftly shoot along,
Nor idly mingle in the noisy throng:
Lur'd by the silver hilt, amid the swarm,
The subtle artist will thy side disarm.
Nor is the flaxen wig with safety worn;
High on the shoulder, in a basket borne,
Lurks the sly boy, whose hand, to rapine bred,
Plucks off the curling honors of thy head.
Here dives the skulking thief, with practis'd sleight,
And unfelt fingers make thy pocket light.
Where's now the watch, with all its trinkets, flown?
And thy late snuff-box is no more thy own.
But, lo! his bolder thefts some tradesman spies,
Swift from his prey the scudding lurcher flies;
Dext'rous he 'scapes the coach with nimble bounds,
Whilst every honest tongue "stop thief!" resounds.
So speeds the wily fox, alarm'd by fear,
Who lately filch'd the turkey's callow care;
Hounds following hounds grow louder as he flies,
And injur'd tenants join the hunter's cries.
Breathless, he stumbling falls. Ill-fated boy!
Why did not honest work thy youth employ?
Seiz'd by rough hands, he's dragg'd amid the rou
And stretch'd beneath the pump's incessant spout
Or plung'd in miry ponds, he gasping lies,
Mud chokes his mouth, and plasters o'er his eyes.
Let not the ballad-singer's shrilling strain Amid the swarm thy listening ear detain: Guard well thy pocket; for these Syrens stand To aid the labors of the diving hand; Confederate in the cheat, they draw the throng, And cambric handkerchiefs reward the song. But soon as coach or cart drive rattling on, The rabble part, in shoals they backward run. So Jove's loud bolts the mingled war divide, And Greece and Troy retreat on either side.
If the rude throng pour on with furious pace, And hap to break thee from a friend's embrace,
* New-Forest in Hampshire, anciently so called.
Stop short; nor struggle through the crowd in vain,
But watch with careful eye the passing train.
Yet I, (perhaps too fond,) if chance the tide
Tumultuous bear my partner from my side,
Impatient venture back; despising harm,
I force my passage where the thickest swarm.
Thus his lost bride the Trojan sought in vain
Through night, and arms, and flames, and hills of May where the chairman rests with safety tread;
Whene'er I pass, their poles (unseen below)
Make my knee tremble with a jarring blow.
The laws have set him bounds; his servile feet
Should ne'er encroach where posts defend the street
Yet who the footman's arrogance can quell,
Whose flambeau gilds the sashes of Pall-Mall,
When in long rank a train of torches flame,
To light the midnight visits of the dame?
Others, perhaps, by happier guidance led,
If wheels bar up the road, where streets are crost,
With gentle words the coachman's ear accost:
He ne'er the threat or harsh command obeys,
But with contempt the spatter'd shoe surveys.
Now man with utmost fortitude thy soul,
To cross the way where carts and coaches roll;
Yet do not in thy hardy skill confide,
Nor rashly risk the kennel's spacious stride;
Stay till afar the distant wheel you hear,
Like dying thunder in the breaking air;
Thy foot will slide upon the miry stone,
And passing coaches crush thy tortur'd bone,
Or wheels inclose the road; on either hand,
Pent round with perils, in the midst you stand,
And call for aid in vain; the coachman swears,
And carmen drive, unmindful of thy prayers.
Where wilt thou turn? ah! whither wilt thou
Thus Nisus wander'd o'er the pathless grove,
To find the brave companion of his love.
The pathless grove in vain he wanders o'er :
Euryalus, alas! is now no more.
That walker who, regardless of his pace,
Turns oft to pore upon the damsel's face,
From side to side by thrusting elbows tost,
Shall strike his aching breast against a post;
Or water, dash'd from fishy stalls, shall stain
His hapless coat with spirts of scaly rain.
But, if unwarily he chance to stray
Where twirling turnstiles intercept the way,
The thwarting passenger shall force them round,
And beat the wretch half breathless to the ground.
Let constant vigilance thy footsteps guide,
And wary circumspection guard thy side;
Then shalt thou walk, unharm'd, the dangerous
Nor need th' officious link-boy's smoky light.
Thou never wilt attempt to cross the road,
Where ale-house benches rest the porter's load,
Grievous to heedless shins; no barrow's wheel,
That bruises oft the truant school-boy's heel,
Behind thee rolling, with insidious pace,
Shall mark thy stocking with a miry trace.
Let not thy venturous steps approach too nigh,
Where, gaping wide, low steepy cellars lie.
Should thy shoe wrench aside, down, down you fall, You chance to roam, where oyster-tubs in rows
And overturn the scolding huckster's stall;
The scolding huckster shall not o'er thee moan,
But pence exact for nuts and pears o'erthrown.
Be sure observe where brown Ostrea stands,
Who boasts her shelly ware from Wallfleet sands;
There may'st thou pass with safe unmiry feet,
Where the rais'd pavement leads athwart the street
If where Fleet-ditch with muddy current flows,
Are rang'd beside the posts; there stay thy haste,
And with the savory fish indulge thy taste :
The damsel's knife the gaping shell commands,
While the salt liquor streams between her hands.
Though you through cleanlier alleys wind by day,
To shun the hurries of the public way,
Yet ne'er to those dark paths by night retire;
The man had sure a palate cover'd o'er
With brass or steel, that on the rocky shore
First broke the oozy oyster's pearly coat,
And risk'd the living morsel down his throat.
What will not Luxury taste? Earth, sea, and air,
Are daily ransack'd for the bill of fare!
Blood stuff'd in skins is British Christians' food!
And France robs marshes of the croaking brood!
Spungy morels in strong ragouts are found,
And in the soup the slimy snail is drown'd.
When from high spouts the dashing torrents fall,
Ever be watchful to maintain the wall;
For shouldst thou quit thy ground, the rushing
Will with impetuous fury drive along;
All press to gain those honors thou hast lost,
And rudely shove thee far without the post.
Then to retrieve the shed you strive in vain,
Draggled all o'er, and soak'd in floods of rain.
Yet rather bear the shower, and toils of mud,
Than in the doubtful quarrel risk thy blood.
O think on Edipus' detested state,
And by his woes be warn'd to shun thy fate.
Where three roads join'd, he met his sire un
(Unhappy sire, but more unhappy son!)
Each claim'd the way, their swords the strife decide
The hoary monarch fell, he groan'd, and died!
Mind only safety, and contemn the mire.
Then no impervious courts thy haste detain,
Nor sneering alewives bid thee turn again.
Where Lincoln's-inn, wide space, is rail'd around,
Cross not with venturous step; there oft is found
The lurking thief, who, while the daylight shone,
Made the walls echo with his begging tone;
That crutch, which late compassion mov'd, shall
Thy bleeding head, and fell thee to the ground.
Though thou art tempted by the link-man's call,
Yet trust him not along the lonely wall;
In the mid-way he'll quench the flaming brand,
And share the booty with the pilfering band.
Still keep the public streets, where oily rays,
Shot from the crystal lamp, o'erspread the ways.
Happy Augusta! law-defended town!
Here no dark lanterns shade the villain's frown;
No Spanish jealousies thy lanes infest,
Nor Roman vengeance stabs th' unwary breast;
Here Tyranny ne'er lifts her purple hand,
But Liberty and Justice guard the land;
No bravoes here profess the bloody trade,
Nor is the church the murderer's refuge made.
Let not the chairman, with assuming stride,
Press near the wall, and rudely thrust thy side.
On every side the pressing spokes are nigh.
So sailors, while Charybdis' gulf they shun,
Amaz'd, on Scylla's craggy dangers run.
Hence sprung the fatal plague that thinn'd thy His numerous lowing herd; his herds he sold,
And his deep leathern'd pocket bagg'd with gold.
Drawn by a fraudful nymph, he gaz'd, he sigh'd:
Unmindful of his home, and distant bride,
She leads the willing victim to his doom,
Through winding alleys, to her cobweb room.
Thence thro' the streets he reels from post to post,
Valiant with wine, nor knows his treasure lost.
The vagrant wretch th' assembled watchmen spies
He waves his hanger, and their poles defies;
Deep in the round-house pent, all night he snores,
And the next morn in vain his fate deplores.
Ah, hapless swain! unus'd to pains and ills!
Canst thou forego roast-beef for nauseous pills!
How wilt thou lift to Heaven thy eyes and hands,
When the long scroll the surgeon's fees demands!
Or else (ye gods, avert that worst disgrace!)
Thy ruin'd nose falls level with thy face!
Then shall thy wife thy lothesome kiss disdain,
And wholesome neighbors from thy mug refrain.
Yet there are watchmen, who with friendly light
Will teach thy reeling steps to tread aright;
For sixpence will support thy helpless arm,
And home conduct thee, safe from nightly harm
But, if they shake their lanterns, from afar
To call their brethren to confederate war,
When rakes resist their power; if hapless you
Should chance to wander with the scouring crew,
Though Fortune yield thee captive, ne'er despair,
But seek the constable's considerate ear;
Thy cursed incest! and thy children slain!
Hence wert thou doom'd in endless night to stray
Thro' Theban streets, and cheerless grope thy way.
Contemplate, mortal, on thy fleeting years;
See, with black train the funeral pomp appears!
Whether some heir attends in sable state,
And mourns, with outward grief, a parent's fate;
Or the fair virgin, nipt in beauty's bloom,
A crowd of lovers follow to her tomb:
Why is the hearse with 'scutcheons blazon'd round,
And with the nodding plume of ostrich crown'd?
No: the dead know it not, nor profit gain;
It only serves to prove the living vain.
How short is life! how frail is human trust!
Is all this pomp for laying dust to dust?
Where the nail'd hoop defends the painted stall,
Brush not thy sweeping skirt too near the wall:
Thy heedless sleeve will drink the color'd oil,
And spot indelible thy pocket soil.
Has not wise Nature strung the legs and feet
With firmest nerves, design'd to walk the street?
Has she not given us hands to grope aright,
Amidst the frequent dangers of the night?
And think'st thou not the double nostril meant,
To warn from oily woes by previous scent?
Who can the various city frauds* recite,
With all the petty rapines of the night?
Who now the guinea-dropper's bait regards,
Trick'd by the sharper's dice, or juggler's cards?
Why should I warn thee ne'er to join the fray,
Where the sham quarrel interrupts the way?
Lives there in these our days so soft a clown,
Brav'd by the bully's oaths, or threatening frown?
I need not strict enjoin the pocket's care,
When from the crowded play thou lead'st the fair;
Who has not here or watch or snuff-box lost,
Or handkerchiefs that India's shuttle boast?
O may thy virtue guard thee through the roads
Of Drury's mazy courts, and dark abodes!
The harlots' guileful paths, who nightly stand
Where Catharine-street descends into the Strand!
Say, vagrant Muse, their wiles and subtle arts,
To lure the strangers' unsuspecting hearts:
So shall our youth on healthful sinews tread,
And city cheeks grow warm with rural red.
"Tis she who nightly strolls with sauntering pace,
No stubborn stays her yielding shape embrace;
Beneath the lamp her tawdry ribbons glare,
The new-scour'd manteau, and the slattern air;
High-draggled petticoats her travels show,
And hollow cheeks with artful blushes glow;
With flattering sounds she soothes the credulous
"My noble captain! charmer! love! my dear !"
In riding-hood near tavern-doors she plies,
Or muffled pinners hide her livid eyes.
With empty band box she delights to range,
And feigns a distant errand from the 'Change:
Nay, she will oft the Quaker's hood profane,
And trudge demure the rounds of Drury-lane.
She darts from sarcenet ambush wily leers,
Twitches thy sleeve, or with familiar airs
Her fan will pat thy cheek; these snares disdain,
Nor gaze behind thee, when she turns again.
I knew a yeoman, who, for thirst of gain,
To the great city drove, from Devon's plain,
* Various cheats formerly in practice.
He will reverse the watchman's harsh decree,
Mov'd by the rhetoric of a silver fee.
Thus, would you gain some favorite courtier's word,
Fee not the petty clerks, but bribe my lord.
Now is the time that rakes their revels keep;
Kindlers of riot, enemies of sleep.
His scatter'd pence the flying nicker* flings.
And with the copper shower the casement rings.
Who has not heard the scourer's midnight fame?
Who has not trembled at the Mohock's name?
Was there a watchman took his hourly rounds,
Safe from their blows, or new-invented wounds?
I pass their desperate deeds, and mischiefs done,
Where from Snow-hill black steepy torrents run;
How matrons, hoop'd within the hogshead's womb,
Were tumbled furious thence; the rolling tomb
O'er the stones thunders, bounds from side to side;
So Regulus, to save his country, died.
Where a dim gleam the paly lantern throws
O'er the mid pavement, heapy rubbish grows;
Or arched vaults their gaping jaws extend,
Or the dark caves to common shores descend,
Oft by the winds extinct the signal lies,
Or smother'd in the glimmering socket dies,
Ere Night has half roll'd round her ebon throne;
In the wide gulf the shatter'd coach, o'erthrown,
Sinks with the snorting steeds; the reins are broke,
And from the crackling axle flies the spoke.
So, when fam'd Eddystone's far-shooting ray,
That led the sailor through the stormy way,
Was from its rocky roots by billows torn,
And the high turret in the whirlwind borne ;
Fleets bulg'd their sides against the craggy land,
And pitchy ruins blacken'd all the strand.
Who then through night would hire the harness'd
And who would choose the rattling wheel for speed?
* Gentlemen who delighted to break windows with half-pence.