The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 8/Cassinus and Peter
CASSINUS AND PETER.
A TRAGICAL ELEGY. 1731.
TWO college sophs of Cambridge growth,
Both special wits, and lovers both,
Conferring as they us'd to meet
On love, and books, and rapture sweet;
(Muse, find me names to fit my metre,
Cassinus this, and t'other Peter)
Friend Peter to Cassinus goes,
To chat a while, and warm his nose:
But such a sight was never seen,
The lad lay swallow'd up in spleen.
He seem'd as just crept out of bed;
One greasy stocking round his head,
The other he sat down to darn
With threads of different colour'd yarn;
His breeches torn, exposing wide
A ragged shirt and tawny hide.
Scorch'd were his shins, his legs were bare,
But well embrown'd with dirt and hair,
A rug was o'er his shoulders thrown,
(A rug, for nightgown he had none)
His jordan stood in manner fitting
Between his legs to spew or spit in;
His ancient pipe, in sable dy'd,
And half unsmok'd, lay by his side.
Him thus accoutred Peter found,
With eyes in smoke and weeping drown'd;
The leavings of his last night's pot
On embers plac'd, to drink it hot.
Why, Cassy, thou wilt dose thy pate:
What makes thee lie abed so late?
The finch, the linnet, and the thrush,
Their matins chant in every bush:
And I have heard thee oft salute
Aurora with thy early flute.
Heaven send thou hast not got the hyps!
How! not a word come from thy lips?
Then gave him some familiar thumps;
A college joke, to cure the dumps.
The swain at last, with grief opprest,
Cry'd, Cælia! thrice, and sigh'd the rest.
Dear Cassy, though to ask I dread,
Yet ask I must — Is Cælia dead?
How happy I, were that the worst,
But I was fated to be curst?
Come, tell us, has she play'd the whore?
O, Peter, would it were no more!
Why, plague confound her sandy locks!
Say, has the small or greater pox
Sunk down her nose, or seam'd her face?
Be easy, 'tis a common case.
O, Peter! beauty's but a varnish,
Which time and accidents will tarnish:
But Cælia has contriv'd to blast
Those beauties that might ever last.
Nor can imagination guess,
Nor eloquence divine express,
How that ungrateful charming maid
My purest passion has betray'd:
Conceive the most envenom'd dart
To pierce an injur'd lover's heart.
Why, hang her; though she seem so coy,
I know she loves the barber's boy.
Friend Peter, this I could excuse,
For every nymph has leave to choose;
Nor have I reason to complain,
She loves a more deserving swain.
But, oh! how ill hast thou divin'd
A crime, that shocks all humankind;
A deed unknown to female race,
At which the sun should hide his face:
Advice in vain you would apply —
Then leave me to despair and die.
Ye kind Arcadians, on my urn
These elegies and sonnets burn;
And on the marble grave these rhymes,
A monument to aftertimes. —
"Here Cassy lies, by Cælia slain,
And dying never told his pain."
Vain empty world, farewell. But hark,
The loud Cerberian triple bark:
And there — behold Alecto stand,
A whip of scorpions in her hand:
Lo, Charon, from his leaky wherry
Beckoning to waft me o'er the ferry.
I come! I come! Medusa see
Her serpents' hiss direct at me.
Begone; unhand me, hellish fry:
"Avaunt — ye cannot say 'tis I."
Dear Cassy, thou must purge and bleed;
I fear thou wilt be mad indeed.
But now, by friendship's sacred laws,
I here conjure thee, tell the cause;
And Cælia's horrid fact relate:
Thy friend would gladly share thy fate.
To force it out, my heart must rend;
Yet when conjur'd by such a friend —
Think, Peter, how my soul is rack'd!
These eyes, these eyes, beheld the fact.
Now bend thine ear, since out it must;
But, when thou seest me laid in dust,
The secret thou shalt ne'er impart,
Not to the nymph that keeps thy heart;
(How would her virgin soul bemoan
A crime to all her sex unknown!)
Nor whisper to the tattling reeds
The blackest of all female deeds;
Nor blab it on the lonely rocks,
Where Echo sits, and listening mocks;
Nor let the Zephyr's treacherous gale
Through Cambridge waft the direful tale;
Nor to the chattering feather'd race
Discover Cælia's foul disgrace.
But, if you fail, my spectre dread,
Attending nightly round your bed —
And yet I dare confide in you;
So take my secret, and adieu.
No wonder how I lost my wits:
Oh! Cælia, Cælia, Cælia sh—!