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'Tis charming reading in Ophelia's life,
So oft a mother, and not once a wife :
She could with just propriety behave,
Alive with peers, with monarchs in her grave:
Her lot how oft have envious harlots wept,
By prebends buried, and by generals kept.
To' improve in morals Mandeville I read,
And Tindal's scruples are my settled creed.
I travel'd early, and I soon saw through
Religion all, ere I was twenty-two.
Shame, pain, or poverty shall I endure,
When ropes or opium can my ease procure?
When money's gone, and I no debts can pay,
Self-murder is an honourable way.
As Pasaran directe, I'd end my life,
And kill myself, my daughter, and my wife.
Burn but that Bible which the parson quotes,
And men of spirit all shall cut their throats.
But not to writings I confine my pen,
I have a taste for buildings, music, men.
Young travel'd coxcombs mighty knowledge boast,
With superficial smattering at most.
Not so my mind, unsatisfied with hints,
Knows more than Budgel writes, or Roberts prints.
I know the town, all houses I have seen
From Hyde Park Corner down to Bethnal Green.
Sure wretched Wren was taught by bungling Jones
To murder mortar, and disfigure stones !
Who in Whitehall can symmetry discern?
I reckon Covent Garden church a barn.
Nor hate I less thy vile cathedral, Paul!
The choir's too big, the cupola's too small :
Substantial walls and heavy roofs I like,
'Tis Vanbrug's structures that my fancy strike :
Such noble ruins every pile would make,
I wish they'd tumble for the prospect sake.
To lofty Chelsea, or to Greenwich dome,
Soldiers and sailors all are welcomed home :
Her poor to palaces Britannia brings;
St. James's hospital may serve for kings.
Buildings so happily I understand,
That for one house I'd mortgage all my land :
Doric, Ionic, shall not there be found,
But it shall cost me threescore thousand pound :
From out my honest workmen I'll select
A bricklayer, and proclaim him architect;
First bid him build me a stupendous dome,
Which having finish’d, we set out for Rome;
Take a week's view of Venice and the Brent,
Stare round, see nothing, and come home content.
I'll have my villa too, a sweet abode,
Its situation shall be London Road:
Pots o'er the door I'll place like cits' balconies,
Which Bentley * calls the gardens of Adonis.
I'll have my gardens in the fashion too,
For what is beautiful that is not new?
Fair four-legg'd temples, theatres that vie
With all the angles of a Christmas pie.
Does it not merit the beholder's praise
What's high to sink, and what is low to raise ?
Slopes shall ascend where once a greenhouse stood,
And in my horsepond I will plant a wood.
Let misers dread the hoarded gold to waste,
Expense and alteration shows a Taste.
In curious paintings I'm exceeding nice,
And know their several beauties by their price:
Auctions and sales I constantly attend,
But choose my pictures by a skilful friend.
* Bentley's Milton, book 9, ver. 439.
Originals and copies much the same;
The picture's value is the painter's name.
My taste in sculpture from my choice is seen,
I buy no statues that are not obscene.
In spite of Addison and ancient Rome,
Sir Cloudesly Shovel's is my favourite tomb.
How oft have I in admiration stood
To view some city magistrate in wood !
I gaze with pleasure on a lord mayor's head,
Cast with propriety in gilded lead.
Oh, could I view through London as I pass,
Some broad Sir Balaam in Corinthian brass :
High on a pedestal, ye freemen, place
His magisterial paupch and griping face;
Letter'd and gilt, let him adorn Cheapside,
And grant the tradesman what a king's denied.
Old coins and medals I collect, 'tis true, Sir Andrew has them, and I'll have them too. But among friends if I the truth might speak, I like the modern, and despise the' antique. Though in the drawers of my japan bureau, To Lady Gripeall I the Cæsars show, 'Tis equal to her ladyship or me, A copper Otho or a Scotch baubee.
Without Italian, or without an ear, To Bononcini's music I adhere : Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, And therefore proper at a sheriff's feast: My soul has oft a secret pleasure found In the harmonious bagpipe's lofty sound: Bagpipes for men, shrill German flutes for boys; I'm English born, and love a grumbling noise. The stage should yield the solemn organ's note, And Scripture tremble in the eunuch's throat.
Let Senesino sing what David writ,
And hallelujahs charm the pious pit.
Eager in throngs the town to Hester came,
And Oratorio was a lucky name.
Thou, Heidegger! the English taste hast found,
And rulest the mob of quality with sound.
In Lent, if masquerades displease the town,
Call them Ridottos, and they still go down.
Go on, Prince Phiz! to please the British nation,
Call thy next masquerade a convocation.
Bears, lions, wolves, and elephants I breed,
And Philosophical Transactions read.
Next lodge I'll be freemason, nothing less,
Unless I happen to be F.R. S.
I have a palate, and (as yet) two ears, Fit company for porters or for peers. Of every useful knowledge I've a share, But my top talent is a bill of fare. Sirloins and rumps of beef offend my eyes, Pleased with frogs fricaseed and coxcomb pies. Dishes I choose though little, yet genteel; Snails the first course, and peepers crown the meal; Pigs' heads with hair'on much my fancy please, I love young cauliflowers if stew'd in cheese, And give ten guineas for a pint of peas. No tattling servants to my table come, My grace is silence, and my waiter dumb. Queer country puts extol Queen Bess's reign, And of lost hospitality complain. Say thou that dost thy father's table praise, Was there mahogany in former days?
Oh! could a British barony be sold ! I would bright honour buy with dạzzling gold :
Could I the privilege of peer procure,
The rich I'd bully, and oppress the poor.
To give is wrong, but it is wronger still,
On any terms, to pay a tradesman's bill;
I'd make the insolent mechanics stay,
And keep my ready money all for play;
I'd try if any pleasure could be found
In tossing up for twenty thousand pound.
Had I whole counties I to White's would go,
And set land, woods, and rivers, at a throw :
But should I meet with an unlucky run,
And at a throw be gloriously undone ;
My debts of honour I'd discharge the first,
Let all my lawful creditors be cursed :
My title would preserve me from arrest;
And seizing hired horses is a jest.
I'd walk the morning with an oaken stick,
With gloves and hat, like my own footman Dick.
A footman I would be, in outward show,
In sense, and education truly so.
As for my head, it should ambiguous wear
At once a periwig and its own hair:
My hair I'd powder in the women's way,
And dress and talk of dressing more than they.
I'll please the maids of honour, if I can;
Without black velvet breeches what is man?
I will my skill in buttonholes display,
And brag how oft I shift me every day.
Shall I wear clothes in awkward England made,
And sweat in cloth to help the woollen trade?
In French embroidery and in Flanders lace
I'll spend the income of a treasurer's place.
Deard's bill for baubles shall to thousands mount,
And I'd outdiamond even the diamond count;