The Crooked six-pence. With a Learned preface Found among Some Papers bearing Date the same Year in which Paradise Lost was published by the late Dr. Bently [poems only]. London: printed for R. Dodsley at Tully's-Head in Pall-Mall; and sold by M. Cooper at the Globe in Pater-Noster Row, 1743. x,24p. (ESTC T34436)
- THE Splendid Shilling,
- THE CROOKED SIX-PENCE
—— Sing, Maiden Muse,
Six-pence, Hoop-petticoat, and Church on fire.
Happy the Maid, who from green Sickness free,
In Canvass or in Holland Pocket bears
A crooked Six-pence. She envieth not
New-married Folks, nor sighs at others Banns.
At Eve, when Sol this Hemisphere forsakes,
She to her Needle or her Wheel repairs.
Then, not unmindful of the Man, dear Man,
Whose Faith by Promises and am'rous Oaths,
And crooked Sixpence, was to her betroth'd,[Page 16]
William or Thomas, at her Work she cry's,
His Year next March is up, and so is mine.
Meanwhile he Shoes japans, or buckling Wigs,
Sings Durfey's Songs by Purcellini set.
But I, who in my Head bear Pain, and draw
Short Breath, Attendant sure on Sickness green,
With Cinders, or with Morter from the Wall,
Wretched Repast! my fading Flesh distain!
In Chimney-corner close I poking sit,
Nor ever stir spontaneous, scarce when call'd.
I loll, I stretch, I yawn, and from a Tub
(Like that whence Burgess preach'd) Oatmeal purloin,
Oatmeal, unsalutary Food if raw!
More wholsome than ycleap'd Burgoût, which feeds
North British Lad, full famous in Records
Of England's Chronicle for selling Kings,
When he o'er hoary Hills, or craggy Cliffs,
Or rugged Rocks, where Eagles build their Nest,[Page 17]
Rides on a Galloway tho' small, yet strong.
Voy'ging from Dungbay Head through Sheriffdoms
Barren and bleak, with chequer'd Plad superb,
Intent with clipp'd Jacobusses to buy
French Wine in Lusitanian Casks ypent,
Which well-paid Perjurers vouch all for Port,
Though they perhaps the Growth of Bourdeaux be,
Chatteau, Margout, or the renown'd Pontack.
Thus while in Qualms my heavy Moments creep,
A Wight in Habit Velvet all and Gold,
Formal and fine, dread Monster! Doctor hight,
With solemn Face into the Kitchen stalks.
His bony Fingers thrice my Pulse assay;
Thrice Secrets deep he asks; surpris'd I dread
The Voice obscene, and hate the sickly Sound.
What shall I do? amaz'd, confounded, dumb
I stand, nor Answer give to his Demands,
Nauseous to Virgin Ears; my frizzled Hair[Page 18]
Stands upright, to its Roof my Tongue sticks dry,
Retentive Faculty my Bowels lose,
So horrible he seems. — His Horse-hair Wig
Stiffen'd with angry Curls, his Agate Cane
And gilded Sword (too oft by Cowards worn)
Disastrous Deeds forebode; in his Right-hand
The desp'rate Pen he takes, which ting'd with Ink,
Strange Characters and Figures dire inscribes,
Illegible to Maid, or Man, or Witch.
Oh, may such Plagues averted ever be
From modest Spinsters. Lo! behind him sneaks
Another Mortal, not unlike himself,
Of Jargon full, with Terms obscure o'ercharg'd,
Apothecary call'd, whose foetid Hands
With Power mechanic, and with Charms arcane,
Apollo God of Med'cine has endu'd.
If he gilt Pills, Powder, or Bolus brown,
Haply into the open Mouth convey[Page 19]
Of Patient, streight his Body to the Dose
Obsequious (as erst La Mancha's Knight)
Is to a Feather-bed well warm'd convey'd.
Sheets never to be chang'd, and watchful Nurse
The captive Wretch incarcerate, till Time,
The best Physician, set the Patient free.
Beware, ye Virgins, of your Health beware;
Be circumspect to romp or run, ascend
The Mountain's airy Top; th'Empirick Crew
Will else oft visit your Abode, by Fees
Of Gold allur'd, and dang'rous Symptoms find.
Prompt to torment some pale unthriving Wench,
With griping Buck-thorn, or with Launcet sharp
To pierce the shiv'ring Arm. So Poets sing,
Sow-gelder erst to Calves, Pigs, Colts, and Lambs,
Sworn everlasting Foe, with goggling Eyes
To Stables, Sties, or Cow-pens early comes,
Protending his fell Knife to thoughtless Bulls[Page 20]
Sure Ruin. So in undiscerning Night,
Myriads of Fairies by their Monarch led
To Infants Cradles, or to Nursery-Rooms
In serried Files march on. Meanwhile the Babe
Secure in Innocence sleeps sound and smiles.
The Peers and Peeresses with Ob'ron's self,
Great Oberon, of Fairy Realms supreme,
Within one Circle all, in Dance and Song,
And Midnight Music move their tiny Feet.
Nurse hears, or thinks she hears, 'twixt sleep and wake,
Loud Sounds, unseen, delightful to the Ear:
But Fairy Fiddles lull again to Sleep.
Eftsoons King Oberon and twelve chosen Men,
With scaling Ladders of Dutch Thread compact,
The Cradle mount, collecting all their Might,
The Burthen of the pond'rous Child they raise.
Inexorable, nor will aught avail
Bright Eyes, loud Tears, or Limbs proportion'd well,[Page 21]
For Pygmy Brat they change the bouncing Boy,
And to their own Abodes, where'er they be,
The harmless Babe with Io Pæans drag.
So pass my Days, but when a Wake or Fair
Comes on, and calls the joyous Damsels forth;
When Swains in Leathern Galligaskins clad,
Treat Nymphs with Cyder, sparkling Drink and sweet;
In melancholy Hall or Kitchen wide,
I cough deserted; Partner for the Dance
None chuses me, none on the Beachen Bark
My Name inscribes, no brawny Batchelor
Hangs over me enamour'd. Singly sad
My Woe, through three times six revolving Years
I count, no jolly Jo, nor sober Sam
The matrimonial Question e'er propos'd,
Or crooked Six-pence offer'd to divide.
Amidst the Horrors of long Wint'ry Nights
I sigh, my Heart into my white-rann'd Shoes[Page 22]
With Palpitation sinks. I ponder now
Where Rats-bane's sold, and now again the Well
I view irresolute, and oft the Strength
Of my own Garters try. Peevish I pine,
And fret, and rave, and wish; my roving Mind
Finds no Relief, my rolling Eyes no Sleep.
But if the Stranger Morpheus does invade
My painful Limbs, my Fancy still awake:
Thoughtful of Man, and eager in a Dream
Imaginary Blisses gives, and takes:
In vain! awake, I find myself alone,
Unbless'd, alas! and curse the backward Sex.
Thus do I live, from Pleasure quite cut off.
Fairing to me no gen'rous Carter brings,
No Pears, no Ginger-bread, tho' brown yet sweet;
No Filberts I, nor Walnuts crack, nor squeeze
The China Orange through its tawny Coat.
Troubles immense, tho' mightier still remain. [Page 23]
My Whale-bone Hoop, that has so long withstood
Pales, Pots, and Doors, and with Circumf'rence wide
My virtuous Limbs enclos'd, by frequent Sparks
Of Fire's destroy'd. (What will not Fire destroy?)
The splinter'd Ribs crack, break, and pierce amain
My wounded Skin. In Rags the Canvass hangs;
The sevenfold Circlets of the flutt'ring Hoop
Uplifted, yields to every Blast of Wind,
Southern, or Western, or the bleak North-East,
North-East, that sinks the Hearts of hippish Souls.
Till Whale-bone, Twitcher, Petticoat and all
Descend with Clangor to the rattling Hearth.
So when of some great Church the Cupola,
Or Minster of renown'd Metropolis;
York, Canterbury, or the Height of Pauls,
Resisting long the Jaws of rav'nous Time,
The Summer's Thunder, and the Winter's Wind,
Fam'd many Cent'ries for its stately Strength,[Page 24]
Upon some fatal unexpected Day,
Smit by the rapid Light'ning's forked Gleam,
Admits the Flame, the melted Lead runs down,
Their own Destruction sapless Beams increase.
The Neighbours with Astonishment are seiz'd,
They stare, they scream, they help, they steal, they run,
Endeavours vain! unconquer'd, unextinct,
Flames domineer aloft; far off refounds
The Rack of Chancels, and the Crush of Isles;
High Towers hasten to the Vaults below,
And proud Cathedrals tumble to the Ground.