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Here rows of drummers stand in martial file,
And with their vellum thunder shake the pile,
To greet the new-made bride. Are sounds like these
The proper prelude to a state of peace?
Now Industry awakes her busy sons;
Full-charg'd with news the breathless hawker runs:
Shops open, coaches roll, carts shake the ground,
And all the streets with passing cries resound.
If cloth'd in black you tread the busy town,
Or if distinguish'd by the reverend gown,
Three trades avoid: oft in the mingling press
The barber's apron soils the sable dress;
Shun the perfumer's touch with cautious eye,
Nor let the baker's step advance too nigh.
Ye walkers too, that youthful colors wear,
Three sullying trades avoid with equal care:
The little chimney-sweeper skulks along,
And marks with sooty stains the heedless throng;
When small-coal murmurs in the hoarser throat,
From smutty dangers guard thy threaten'd coat;
The dustman's cart offends thy clothes and eyes,
When through the street a cloud of ashes flies;
But, whether black or lighter dyes are worn,
The chandler's basket, on his shoulder borne,
With tallow spots thy coat; resign the way,
To shun the surly butcher's greasy tray,
But still the wandering passes forc'd his stay,
Till Ariadne's clue unwinds the way.
But do not thou, like that bold chief, confide
Thy venturous footsteps to a female guide:
She'll lead thee with delusive smiles along,
Dive in thy fob, and drop thee in the throng.
When waggish boys the stunted besom ply,
To rid the slabby pavement, pass not by
Ere thou hast held their hands; some heedless flirt
Will overspread thy calves with spattering dirt.
Where porters' hogsheads roll from carts aslope,
Or brewers down steep cellars stretch the rope,
Where counted billets are by carmen tost,
Stay thy rash step, and walk without the post.
What though the gathering mire thy feet be-
The voice of Industry is always near.
Hark! the boy calls thee to his destin'd stand,
And the shoe shines beneath his oily hand.
Here let the Muse, fatigued amid the throng,
Adorn her precepts with digressive song;
Of shirtless youths the secret rise to trace,
And show the parent of the sable race.
Like mortal man, great Jove (grown fond of change)
Of old was wont this nether world to range,
Butchers, whose hands are dyed with blood's foul To seek amours; the vice the monarch lov'd,
And always foremost in the hangman's train.
Let due civilities be strictly paid:
The wall surrender to the hooded maid;
Nor let thy sturdy elbow's hasty rage
Jostle the feeble steps of trembling age:
And when the porter bends beneath his load,
And pants for breath, clear thou the crowded road.
But, above all, the groping blind direct;
And from the pressing throng the lame protect.
You'll sometimes meet a fop, of nicest tread,
Whose mantling peruke veils his empty head;
At every step he dreads the wall to lose,
And risks, to save a coach, his red-heel'd shoes;
Him, like the miller, pass with caution by,
Lest from his shoulder clouds of powder fly.
But, when the bully, with assuming pace,
Cocks his broad hat, edg'd round with tarnish'd
Yield not the way, defy his strutting pride,
And thrust him to the muddy kennel's side;
He never turns again, nor dares oppose,
But mutters coward curses as he goes.
If drawn by business to a street unknown,
Let the sworn porter point thee through the town;
Be sure observe the signs, for signs remain,
Like faithful landmarks, to the walking train.
Seek not from prentices to learn the way,
Those fabling boys will turn thy steps astray;
Ask the grave tradesman to direct thee right,
He ne'er deceives-but when he profits by 't.
Where fam'd St. Giles's ancient limits spread,
An enrail'd column rears its lofty head;
Here to seven streets seven dials count the day,
And from each other catch the circling ray.
Here oft the peasant, with inquiring face,
Bewilder'd, trudges on from place to place;
He dwells on every sign with stupid gaze,
Enters the narrow alley's doubtful maze,
Tries every winding court and street in vain,
And doubles o'er his weary steps again.
Thus hardly Theseus with intrepid feet
Travers'd the dangerous labyrinth of Crete;
Soon through the wide ethereal court improv'd:
And ev'n the proudest goddess, now and then,
Would lodge a night among the sons of men;
To vulgar deities descends the fashion,
Each, like her betters, had her earthly passion.
Then Cloacina* (goddess of the tide,
Whose sable streams beneath the city glide,)
Indulg'd the modish flame; the town she rov'd,
A mortal scavenger she saw, she lov'd;
The muddy spots that dried upon his face,
Like female patches, heighten'd every grace:
She gaz'd; she sigh'd; (for love can beauties spy
In what seem faults to every common eye.)
Now had the watchman walk'd his second round
When Cloacina hears the rumbling sound
Of her brown lover's cart (for well she knows
That pleasing thunder): swift the goddess rose,
And through the streets pursu'd the distant noise,
Her bosom panting with expected joys.
With the night-wandering harlot's airs she past,
Brush'd near his side, and wanton glances cast;
In the black form of cinder-wench she came,
When love, the hour, the place, had banish'd shame,
To the dark alley arm in arm they move:
O may no link-boy interrupt their love!
When the pale Moon had nine times fill'd her
The pregnant goddess (cautious of disgrace)
Descends to Earth; but sought no midwife's aid,
Nor 'midst her anguish to Lucina pray'd;
No cheerful gossip wish'd the mother joy,
Alone, beneath a bulk, she dropt the boy. [prov'd
The child, through various risks in years im
At first, a beggar's brat, compassion mov'd;
His infant tongue soon learnt the canting art,
Knew all the prayers and whines to touch the
* Cloacina was a goddess, whose image Tatius (a king of the Sabines) found in the common sewer; and, not knowing what goddess it was, he called it Cloacina, from the place in which it was found, and paid to it divine honors.-Lactant. 1. 20, Minuc. Fel. Oct. p. 232.
Oh, happy unown'd youths! your limbs can bear
The scorching dog-star, and the winter's air;
While the rich infant, nurs'd with care and pain,
Thirsts with each heat, and coughs with every rain!
The goddess long had mark'd the child's distress,
And long had sought his sufferings to redress.
She prays the gods to take the fondling's part,
To teach his hands some beneficial art
Practis'd in streets: the gods her suit allow'd,
And made him useful to the walking crowd;
To cleanse the miry feet, and o'er the shoe,
With nimble skill, the glossy black renew.
Each power contributes to relieve the poor:
With the strong bristles of the mighty boar
Diana forms his brush; the god of day
A tripod gives, amid the crowded way
To raise the dirty foot, and ease his toil;
Kind Neptune fills his vase with fetid oil
Prest from th' enormous whale; the god of fire,
From whose dominions smoky clouds aspire,
Among these generous presents joins his part,
And aids with soot the new japanning art.
Pleas'd she receives the gifts; she downward glides,
Lights in Fleet-ditch, and shoots beneath the tides.
Now dawns the morn, the sturdy lad awakes,
Leaps from his stall, his tangled hair he shakes;
Then, leaning o'er the rails, he musing stood,
And view'd below the black canal of mud,
Where common shores a lulling murmur keep,
Whose torrents rush from Holborn's fatal steep:
Pensive through idleness, tears flow'd apace,
Which eas'd his loaded heart, and wash'd his face!
At length he sighing cried, "That boy was blest,
Whose infant lips have drain'd a mother's breast;
But happier far are those (if such be known)
Whom both a father and a mother own:
But I, alas! hard Fortune's utmost scorn,
Who ne'er knew parent, was an orphan born!
Some boys are rich by birth beyond all wants,
Belov'd by uncles, and kind good old aunts;
When time comes round, a Christmas-box they bear,
And one day makes them rich for all the year.
Had I the precepts of a father learn'd,
Perhaps I then the coachman's fare had earn'd,
For lesser boys can drive; I thirsty stand,
And see the double flagon charge their hand,
See them puff off the froth, and gulp amain,
While with dry tongue I lick my lips in vain."
While thus he fervent prays, the heaving tide,
In widen'd circles, beats on either side;
The goddess rose amid the inmost round,
With wither'd turnip-tops her temples crown'd;
Low reach'd her dripping tresses, lank, and black
As the smooth jet, or glossy raven's back;
Around her waist a circling eel was twin'd,
Which bound her robe that hung in rags behind.
Now, beckoning to the boy, she thus begun :
"Thy prayers are granted; weep no more, my son:
Go thrive. At some frequented corner stand;
This brush I give thee, grasp it in thy hand;
Temper the soot within this vase of oil,
And let the little tripod aid thy toil.
On this, methinks, I see the walking crew,
At thy request, support the miry shoe;
The foot grows black that was with dirt embrown'd,
And in thy pocket gingling half-pence sound."
The goddess plunges swift beneath the flood,
And dashes all around he showers of mud:
The youth straight chose his post; the labor plied
Where branching streets from Charing-Cross divide;]
His treble voice resounds along the Meuse,
And Whitehall echoes-"Clean your honor's
Like the sweet ballad, this amusing lay
Too long detains the walker on his way;
While he attends, new dangers round him throng:
The busy city asks instructive song.
Where, elevated o'er the gaping crowd,
Clasp'd in the board the perjur'd head is bow'd,
Betimes retreat; here, thick as hailstones pour,
Turnips and half-hatch'd eggs (a mingled shower)
Among the rabble rain: some random throw
May with the trickling yolk thy cheek o'erflow.
Though expedition bids, yet never stray
Where no rang'd posts defend the rugged way.
Here laden carts with thundering wagons meet,
Wheels clash with wheels, and bar the narrow
The lashing whip resounds, the horses strain,
And blood in anguish bursts the swellingvein.
O barbarous men! your cruel breasts assuage;
Why vent ye on the generous steed your rage?
Does not his service earn your daily bread?
Your wives, your children, by his labors fed!
If, as the Samian taught, the soul revives,
And, shifting seats, in other bodies lives;
Severe shall be the brutal coachman's change,
Doom'd in a hackney-horse the town to range;
Carmen, transform'd, the groaning load shall draw
Whom other tyrants with the lash shall awe.
Who would of Watling-street the dangers share,
When the broad pavement of Cheapside is near?
Or who that rugged street* would traverse o'er,
That stretches, O Fleet-ditch, from thy black shore
To the Tower's moated walls? Here steams ascend
That, in mix'd fumes, the wrinkled nose offend.
Where chandlers' caldrons boil; where fishy prey
Hide the wet stall, long absent from the sea;
And where the cleaver chops the heifer's spoil,
And where huge hogsheads sweat with trainy oil;
Thy breathing nostril hold: but how shall I
Pass, where in piles Carnaviant cheeses lie;
Cheese, that the table's closing rites denies,
And bids me with th' unwilling chaplain rise?
O bear me to the paths of fair Pall-Mall!
Safe are thy pavements, grateful is thy smell!
At distance rolls along the gilded coach,
Nor sturdy carmen on thy walks encroach;
No lets would bar thy ways were chairs denied,
The soft supports of laziness and pride:
Shops breathe perfumes, through sashes ribbons glow,
The mutual arms of ladies and the beau.
Yet still ev'n here, when rains the passage hide,
Oft the loose stone spirts up a muddy tide
Beneath thy careless foot; and from on high,
Where masons mount the ladder, fragments fly,
Mortar and crumbled lime in showers descend,
And o'er thy head destructive tiles impend.
But sometimes let me leave the noisy roads,
And silent wander in the close abodes,
Where wheels ne'er shake the ground; there pensive
In studious thought, the long uncrowded way.
Here I remark each walker's different face,
And in their look their various business trace.
The broker here his spacious beaver wears,
Upon his brow sit jealousies and cares;
† Cheshire, anciently so called.
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 dext'rous 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?
Where Covent-garden's famous temple stands,
That boasts the work of Jones' immortal hands;
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 osiers 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!
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,
thimbles and a little ball.
| Mondays and Thursdays are the days of game
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, Z'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 strair.
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
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.