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- The Borough - 20/45 -


And flaming ribands at her ample breast: She, skill'd like Circe, tried her guests to move, With looks of welcome and with words of love; And such her potent charms, that men unwise Were soon transform'd and fitted for the sties. Her port in bottles stood, a well-stain'd row, Drawn for the evening from the pipe below; Three powerful spirits filled a parted case, Some cordial bottles stood in secret place; Fair acid-fruits in nets above were seen, Her plate was splendid, and her glasses clean; Basins and bowls were ready on the stand, And measures clatter'd in her powerful hand. Inferior Houses now our notice claim, But who shall deal them their appropriate fame? Who shall the nice, yet known distinction, tell, Between the peal complete and single Bell? Determine ye, who on your shining nags Wear oil-skin beavers, and bear seal-skin bags; Or ye, grave topers, who with coy delight Snugly enjoy the sweetness of the night; Ye travellers all, superior Inns denied By moderate purse, the low by decent pride; Come and determine,--will you take your place At the full Orb, or half the lunar Face? With the Black-Boy or Angel will ye dine? Will ye approve the Fountain or the Vine? Horses the white or black will ye prefer? The Silver-Swan or Swan opposed to her - Rare bird! whose form the raven-plumage decks, And graceful curve her three alluring necks? All these a decent entertainment give, And by their comforts comfortably live. Shall I pass by the Boar?--there are who cry, "Beware the Boar," and pass determined by: Those dreadful tusks, those little peering eyes And churning chaps, are tokens to the wise. There dwells a kind old Aunt, and there you see Some kind young Nieces in her company; Poor village nieces, whom the tender dame Invites to town, and gives their beauty Fame; The grateful sisters feel th' important aid, And the good Aunt is flatter'd and repaid. What, though it may some cool observers strike, That such fair sisters should be so unlike; That still another and another comes, And at the matron's tables smiles and blooms; That all appear as if they meant to stay Time undefined, nor name a parting day; And yet, though all are valued, all are dear, Causeless, they go, and seldom more appear. Yet let Suspicion hide her odious head, And Scandal vengeance from a burgess dread; A pious friend, who with the ancient dame At sober cribbage takes an evening game; His cup beside him, through their play he quaffs, And oft renews, and innocently laughs; Or growing serious, to the text resorts, And from the Sunday-sermon makes reports; While all, with grateful glee, his wish attend, A grave protector and a powerful friend: But Slander says, who indistinctly sees, Once he was caught with Sylvia on his knees; - A cautious burgess with a careful wife To be so caught!--'tis false, upon my life. Next are a lower kind, yet not so low But they, among them, their distinctions know; And when a thriving landlord aims so high, As to exchange the Chequer for the Pye, Or from Duke William to the Dog repairs, He takes a finer coat and fiercer airs. Pleased with his power, the poor man loves to say What favourite Inn shall share his evening's pay; Where he shall sit the social hour, and lose His past day's labours and his next day's views. Our Seamen too have choice; one takes a trip In the warm cabin of his favourite Ship; And on the morrow in the humbler Boat He rows till fancy feels herself afloat; Can he the sign--Three Jolly Sailors--pass, Who hears a fiddle and who sees a lass? The Anchor too affords the seaman joys, In small smoked room, all clamour, crowd, and noise; Where a curved settle half surrounds the fire, Where fifty voices purl and punch require; They come for pleasure in their leisure hour, And they enjoy it to their utmost power; Standing they drink, they swearing smoke, while all Call, or make ready for a second call: There is no time for trifling--"Do ye see? We drink and drub the French extempore." See! round the room, on every beam and balk, Are mingled scrolls of hieroglyphic chalk; Yet nothing heeded--would one stroke suffice To blot out all, here honour is too nice, - "Let knavish landsmen think such dirty things, We're British tars, and British tars are kings." But the Green-Man shall I pass by unsung, Which mine own James upon his sign-post hung? His sign his image,--for he was once seen A squire's attendant, clad in keeper's green; Ere yet, with wages more and honour less, He stood behind me in a graver dress. James in an evil hour went forth to woo Young Juliet Hart, and was her Romeo: They'd seen the play, and thought it vastly sweet For two young lovers by the moon to meet; The nymph was gentle, of her favours free, E'en at a word--no Rosalind was she; Nor, like that other Juliet, tried his truth With--"Be thy purpose marriage, gentle youth?" But him received, and heard his tender tale, When sang the lark, and when the nightingale; So in few months the generous lass was seen I' the way that all the Capulets had been. Then first repentance seized the amorous man, And--shame on love!--he reason'd and he ran; The thoughtful Romeo trembled for his purse, And the sad sounds, "for better and for worse." Yet could the Lover not so far withdraw, But he was haunted both by Love and Law; Now Law dismay'd him as he view'd its fangs, Now Pity seized him for his Juliet's pangs; Then thoughts of justice and some dread of jail, Where all would blame him, and where none might bail; These drew him back, till Juliet's hut appear'd, Where love had drawn him when he should have fear'd. There sat the father in his wicker throne, Uttering his curses in tremendous tone: With foulest names his daughter he reviled, And look'd a very Herod at the child: Nor was she patient, but with equal scorn, Bade him remember when his Joe was born: Then rose the mother, eager to begin Her plea for frailty, when the swain came in. To him she turn'd, and other theme began, Show'd him his boy, and bade him be a man; "An honest man, who, when he breaks the laws, Will make a woman honest if there's cause." With lengthen'd speech she proved what came to pass Was no reflection on a loving lass: "If she your love as wife and mother claim, What can it matter which was first the name? But 'tis most base, 'tis perjury and theft, When a lost girl is like a widow left; The rogue who ruins .. " here the father found His spouse was treading on forbidden ground. "That's not the point," quoth he, "I don't suppose My good friend Fletcher to be one of those; What's done amiss he'll mend in proper time - I hate to hear of villany and crime: 'Twas my misfortune, in the days of youth, To find two lasses pleading for my truth; The case was hard, I would with all my soul Have wedded both, but law is our control; So one I took, and when we gain'd a home, Her friend agreed--what could she more?--to come; And when she found that I'd a widow'd bed, Me she desired--what could I less?--to wed. An easier case is yours: you've not the smart That two fond pleaders cause in one man's heart. You've not to wait from year to year distress'd, Before your conscience can be laid at rest; There smiles your bride, there sprawls your new-born son, A ring, a licence, and the thing is done." - "My loving James,"--the Lass began her plea, I'll make thy reason take a part with me; Had I been froward, skittish, or unkind, Or to thy person or thy passion blind; Had I refused, when 'twas thy part to pray, Or put thee off with promise and delay; Thou might'st in justice and in conscience fly, Denying her who taught thee to deny: But, James, with me thou hadst an easier task, Bonds and conditions I forbore to ask; I laid no traps for thee, no plots or plans, Nor marriage named by licence or by banns; Nor would I now the parson's aid employ, But for this cause,"--and up she held her boy. Motives like these could heart of flesh resist? James took the infant and in triumph kiss'd; Then to his mother's arms the child restored, Made his proud speech and pledged his worthy word. "Three times at church our banns shall publish'd be, Thy health be drunk in bumpers three times three; And thou shalt grace (bedeck'd in garments gay) The christening-dinner on the wedding-day." James at my door then made his parting bow, Took the Green-Man, and is a master now.

LETTER XII.

These are monarchs none respect, Heroes, yet an humbled crew, Nobles, whom the crowd correct, Wealthy men, whom duns pursue;


The Borough - 20/45

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