Tea Pot and Scrubbing Brush

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Tea Pot and Scrubbing Brush. Fable V  (1753) 
by Christopher Smart



A tawdry Tea-Pot, A-la-mode,
Where art her utmost skill bestow'd,
Was much esteem'd for being old,
And on its sides with red and gold
5 Strange beasts were drawn, in taste Chinese,
And frightful fish, and hump-back trees.

       High in an elegant beaufet,[1]
This pompous utensil was set,
And near it, on a marble slab,
10 Forsaken by some careless drab,
A veteran Scrubbing-Brush was plac'd,
And the rich furniture disgrac'd.
The Tea-Pot soon began to flout,
And thus its venom spouted out:
15 Who from the scullery or yard,
Brought in this low, this vile blackguard,
And laid in insolent position,
Among us people of condition?
Back to the helper in the stable,
20 Scour the close-stool, or wash-house table;
Or cleanse some horsing block, or plank,
Nor dare approach us folks of rank.
Turn—brother coffee-pot, your spout,
Observe the nasty stinking lout,
25 Who seems to scorn my indignation,
Nor pays due homage to my fashion;
Take, silver sugar dish, a view,[2]
And cousin cream pot, pray do you."
"Pox on you all," replies old Scrub,
30 “Of coxcombs ye confederate club.
Full of impertinence, and prate,
Ye hate all things that are sedate.
None but such ignorant infernals,
Judge, by appearance, and externals:
35 Train'd up in toil and useful knowledge,
I'm fellow of the kitchen college,
And with the mop, my old associate,
The family affairs negociate.—
Am foe to filth, and things obscene,
40 Dirty by making others clean.—
Not shining, yet I cause to shine,
My roughness makes my neighbours fine;
You're fair without, but foul within,
With shame impregnated, and sin;
45 To you each impious scandal's owing,
You set each gossip's clack a going.—
How Parson Tythe in secret sins,
And how Miss Dainty brought forth twins:
How dear delicious Polly Bloom,
50 Owes all her sweetness to perfume;
Tho' grave at church, at cards can bet,
At once a prude and a coquette.—
'Twas better for each British virgin,
When on roast beef, strong beer, and sturgeon,
55 Joyous to breakfast they set round,
Nor were asham'd to eat a pound.
These were the manners, these the ways,
In good Queen Bess's golden days;
Each damsel ow'd her bloom and glee,
60 To wholesome elbow-grease, and me,
“But now they center all their joys
In empty rattle traps and noise.
Thus where the Fates send you, they send
Flagitious times, which ne'er will mend,
65Till some Philosopher can find,
A Scrubbing-Brush to scour the mind."



First published in The Midwife; or The Old Woman's Magazine (iii. 134-6, June. 1753). Reprinted 1756, 1763, 1791.

  1. 7 beaufet: sideboard (buffet).
  2. 27. Take, sister Sugar-dish, a view, (Text 1753).

This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.