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-A Town Eclogue

1710[1]

Scene: the Royal Exchange



CORYDON

Now the keen rigour of the winter's o'er,
No hail descends, and frost 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 o'erheard 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.


CORYDON

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;
Stock-jobbing, this to Jonathan's shall come,
At the Groom Porter's, that play off his plum.


PHILLIS

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.
Exposed in vain my glossy ribbons 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.


CORYDON

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 mechanic, elegantly drest.


PHILLIS

And yet Crepundia, that conceited fair,
Amid her toys, affects a saucy air,
And views me hourly with a scornful eye.


CORYDON

She might as well with bright Cleora vie.


PHILLIS

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 placed,
When I scarce bear the charges of the last.


CORYDON

What I could raise I sent; a pound of plums,
Five shillings, and a coral for his gums;
To-morrow I intend him something more.


PHILLIS

I sent a frock and pair of shoes before.


CORYDON

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 shop-boards fall, and bars resound;
Each ready sempstress slips her pattens on,
And ties her hood, preparing to be gone.

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


[Footnote 1: Swift and Pope delighted to ridicule Philips' "Pastorals," and wrote several
parodies upon them, the fame of which has been eclipsed by Gay's "Shepherd's Week."--Scott.]


Jonathan Swift

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