The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/A Town Eclogue

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A TOWN ECLOGUE[1]. 1710.



NOW the keen rigour of the winter's o'er,
No hail descends, and frosts can pinch no more,
While other girls confess the genial spring,
And laugh aloud, or amorous ditties sing,
Secure from cold their lovely necks display,
And throw each useless chafing-dish away;
Why sits my Phillis discontented here,
Nor feels the turn of the revolving year?
Why on that brow dwell sorrow and dismay,
Where Loves were wont to sport, and Smiles to play?
Phillis. Ah, Corydon! survey the 'Change around,
Through all the 'Change no wretch like me is found:

Alas! the day, when I, poor heedless maid,
Was to your rooms in Lincoln's Inn betray'd;
Then how you swore, how many vows you made!
Ye listening Zephyrs, that overheard his love,

Waft the soft accents to the gods above.
Alas! the day; for (O, eternal shame!)
I sold you handkerchiefs, and lost my fame.
Cor. When I forget the favour you bestow'd,
Red herrings shall be spawn'd in Tyburn Road;
Fleet street transform'd become a flowery green,
And mass be sung where operas are seen.
The wealthy cit, and the St. James's beau,
Shall change their quarters, and their joys forego;
Stockjobbing, this, to Jonathan's shall come,
At the Groom Porter's, that, play off his plum.

Phil. But what to me does all that love avail,
If, while I doze at home o'er porter's ale,
Each night with wine and wenches you regale?
My livelong hours in anxious cares are past,

And raging hunger lays my beauty waste.
On templars spruce in vain I glances throw,
And with shrill voice invite them as they go.
Expos'd in vain my glossy ribands shine,
And unregarded wave upon the twine.
The week flies round; and when my profit's known,
I hardly clear enough to change a crown.
Cor. Hard fate of virtue, thus to be distrest,
Thou fairest of thy trade, and far the best!
As fruitmen's stalls the summer-market grace,
And ruddy peaches them; as first in place
Plumcake is seen o'er smaller pastry ware,
And ice on that; so Phillis does appear
In playhouse and in park, above the rest
Of belles mechanick, elegantly drest.
Phil. And yet Crepundia, that conceited fair,
Amid her toys, affects a saucy air,
And views me hourly with a scornful eye.
Cor. She might as well with bright Cleora vie.
Phil. With this large petticoat I strive in vain
To hide my folly past, and coming pain;
'Tis now no secret; she, and fifty more,
Observe the symptoms I had once before:
A second babe at Wapping must be plac'd,
When I scarce bear the charges of the last.
Cor. What I could raise I sent; a pound of plums,
Five shillings, and a coral for his gums;
Tomorrow I intend him something more.
Phil. I sent a frock and pair of shoes before.
Cor. However, you shall home with me to night,
Forget your cares, and revel in delight.
I have in store a pint or two of wine,
Some cracknels, and the remnant of a chine.
And now on either side, and all around,
The weighty shopboards fall, and bars resound;
Each ready semstress slips her pattins on,
And ties her hood, preparing to be gone.

L.B. W.H. J.S. S.T.

  1. First printed in the Fifth Volume of the Tatler. See the Eighteenth Volume of this Collection.