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Each carriage passing on the road,
From the broad waggon's pond'rous load
To the light car, where mounted high
The giddy driver seems to fly,
Were themes for harmless satire fit,
And gave fresh force to Jenny's wit.
Whate'er occurr'd, 'twas all delightful,
No noise was harsh, no danger frightful.
The dash and splash through thick and thin,
The hair-breadth 'scapes, the bustling inn,
(Where well-bred landlords were so ready
To welcome in the 'squire and lady.)
Dirt, dust, and sun, they bore with ease,
Determin'd to be pleas'd, and please.
Now nearer town and all
They know dear London by its fog.
Bridges they cross, through lanes they wind,
Leave Hounslow's dang’rous heath behind,
Through Brentford win a passage free
By roaring, “ Wilkes and Liberty!"
At Knightsbridge bless the short'ning way,
(Where Bays's troops in ambush lay)
O'er Piccadilly's pavement glide,
(With palaces to grace its side)
Till Bond-street with its lamps a-blaze
Concludes the journey of three days.
Why should we paint, in tedious song, How ev'ry day, and all day long, They drove at first with curious haste Through Lud's vast town; or, as they pass'd
Midst risings, fallings, and repairs
Of streets on streets, and squares on squares,
Describe how strong their wonder grew
At buildings--and at builders too?
Scarce less astonishment arose
At architects more fair than those--
Who built as high, as widely spread
Th' enormous loads that cloth'd their head.
For British dames new follies love,
And, if they can't invent, improve.
Some with erect pagodas vie,
Some nod, like Pisa's tow'r, awry,
Medusa's snakes, with Pallas' crest,
Convolv'd, contorted, and compress'd;
With intermingling trees, and flow?rs,
And corn, and grass, and shepherds' bow'rs,
Stage above stage the turrets run,
Like pendent groves of Babylon,
Till nodding from the topmost wall
Otranto's plumes envelope all!
Whilst the black ewes, who own’d the hair,
Feed harmless on, in pastures fair,
Unconscious that their tails perfume,
In scented curls, the drawing-room.
When Night her murky pinions spread, And sober folks retire to bed, To ev'ry public place they flew, Where Jenny told them who was who. Money was always at command, And tripp'd with pleasure hand in hand.
Money was equipage, was show,
Gallini's, Almack's, and Soho;
The passe par tout through ev'ry vein
Of dissipation's hydra reign.
O London, thou prolific source,
Parent of vice, and folly's nurse !
Fruitful as Nile thy copious springs
Spawn hourly births,--and all with stings:
But happiest far the he, or she,
I know not which, that livelier dunce
Who first contriv'd the coterie,
To crush domestic bliss at once.
Then grinn'd, no doubt, amidst the dames,
As Nero fiddled to the flames.
Of thee, Pantheon, let me speak
With rev'rence, though in numbers weak;
Thy beauties satire's frown beguile,
We spare the follies for the pile.
Flounc'd, furbelow'd, and trick'd for show,
With lamps above, and lamps below,
Thy charms even modern taste defied,
They could not spoil thee, though they tried.
Ah, pity that Time's hasty wings Must sweep thee off with vulgar things! Let architects of humbler name On frail materials build their fame, Their noblest works the world might want, Wyatt should build in adamant.
But what are these to scenes which lie Secreted from the vulgar eye,
And baffle all the pow’rs of song ?--
A brazen throat, an iron tongue,
(Which poets wish for, when at length
Their subject soars above their strength)
Would shun the task. Our humbler Muse,
(Who only reads the public news,
And idly utters what she gleans
From chronicles and magazines)
Recoiling feels her feeble fires,
And blushing to her shades retires.
Alas! she knows not how to treat
The finer follies of the great,
Where ev'n, Democritus, thy sneer
Were vain as Heraclitus' tear.
Suffice it that by just degrees
They reach'd all heights, and rose with ease;
(For beauty wins its way, uncall's,
And ready dupes are ne'er black-ball’d.)
Each gambling dame she knew, and he
Knew every shark of quality;
From the grave, cautious few, who live
On thoughtless youth, and living thrive,
To the light train who mimic France,
And the soft sons of nonchalance.
While Jenny, now no more of use,
Excuse succeeding to excuse,
Grew piqued, and prudently withdrew
To shilling whist, and chicken loo.
Advanc'd to fashion's wav'ring head, They now, where once they follow'd, led.
Devis'd new systems of delight,
A-bed all day, and up all night,
In diff'rent circles reign'd supreme.
Wives copied her, and husbands him;
Till so divinely life ran on,
So separate, so quite bon-ton,
That meeting in a public place,
They scarcely knew each other's face.
At last they met, by his desire,
A tête-à-tête across the fire;
Look'd in each other's face awhile,
With half a tear, and half a smile.
The ruddy health, which wont to grace
With manly glow his rural face,
Now scarce retain'd its faintest streak;
So sallow was his leathern cheek.
She lank, and pale, and hollow-ey'd,
had striven in vain to hide What once was beauty, and repair The rapine of the midnight air.
Silence is eloquence, 'tis said.
Both wish'd to speak, both hung the head.
At length it burst."'Tis time,” he cries,
“ When tir'd of folly, to be wise.
Are you too tir'd?”—then check'd a groan,
She wept consent, and he went on.
“ How delicate the married life!
You love your husband, I my wife.
Not ev'n satiety could tame,
Nor dissipation quench the flame.