Bag-Wig and the Tobacco-Pipe

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Bag-Wig and the Tobacco-Pipe. Fable XVI  (1750) 
by Christopher Smart
From Fables.

The BAG-WIG and

the TOBACCO-PIPE.


 

FABLE XVI.

A Bag-wig of a jauntee air,
Trick'd up with all a barber's care,
Loaded with powder and perfume,
Hung in a spendthrift's dressing-room;
5 Close by its side, by chance convey'd,
A black Tobacco-pipe was laid;
And with its vapours far and near,
Outstunk the essence of Monsieur;
At which its rage, the thing of hair,
10 Thus, bristling up, began declare.

       "Bak'd dirt! that with intrusion rude
Breakst in upon my solitude,
And whose offensive breath defiles[1]
The air for forty thousand miles —
15 Avaunt-pollution's in thy touch —
O barb'rous English! horrid Dutch!
I cannot bear it — Here, Sue, Nan,
Go call the maid to call the man,
And bid him come without delay,
20 To take this odious pipe away.
Hideous! sure some one smoak'd thee, Friend,
Reversely, at his t'other end.
Oh! what mix'd odours! what a throng
Of salt and sour, of stale and strong!
25 A most unnatural combination,
Enough to mar all perspiration —
Monstrous! again — 'twou'd vex a saint!
Susan, the drops — or else I faint!"
The pipe (for 'twas a pipe of soul)
30 Raising himself upon his bole,
In smoke, like oracle of old,
Did thus his sentiments unfold.

      "Why, what's the matter, Goodman Swagger,
Thou flaunting French, fantastic bragger?
35 Whose whole fine speech is (with a pox)
Ridiculous and heterodox.
'Twas better for the English nation
Before such scoundrels came in fashion,
When none sought hair in realms unknown,
40 But every blockhead bore his own.
Know, puppy, I'm an English pipe,
Deem'd worthy of each Briton's gripe,
Who, with my cloud-compelling aid
Help our plantations and our trade,
45 And am, when sober and when mellow,
An upright, downright, honest fellow.
Tho' fools, like you, may think me rough,
And scorn me, 'cause I am in buff,
Yet your contempt I glad receive,
50 'Tis all the fame that you can give:
None finery or fopp'ry prize;
But they who've something to disguise;
For simple nature hates abuse,
And Plainness is the dress of Use."


1750

Notes

First published in The Midwife; or The Old Woman's Magazine (i. 120-2, Dec. 1750). Reprinted 1752, 1763, 1791

  1. 13. And with thy fetid breath defiles (Text 1752).

Links

This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.