"Nor can you unconcern'd thro' Ludgate pass / Without a Conscience steel'd, or Heart of Brass; / Where, thro' the Iron Grate, a Rueful Tongue / Directs you to the Box below 'em hung, / To angle Farthings from the num'rous Throng"
— Gould, Robert (b. 1660?, d. in or before 1709)
To take a thoughtful view of Humankind:
Were you to walk some Days thro' Cornwall street,
And nicely mark the Num'rous Herd You'd meet:
Some creep like Snails, and some like Monkeys walk,
Some all hum-drum, and some Eternal Talk:
Some clad in Silks, some wrap't in Double Frieze,
And some with Rolls like Cables on their Knees.
As Chatt'ring Babell did all Tongues confess,
Yet not one know what t'other did express,
You'd see the same Confusion there in Dress:
No two alike of all the Endless Train,
No two alike, yet all Profusely vain.
And first the Ladies, with their high heel'd Shoos,
Walk as their Hips were fastn'd on with Screws.
All bare their Breasts, as if for Sale design'd,
Six Ells of Lappet waving in the Wind,
And half a Mercer's Shop tuck'd up behind:
Their Monumental Heads to Heaven aspire;
Ah! wou'd they take the Hint from their Attire!
But they're so pleas'd on Earth they're not for Climbing high'r.
Just after 'em the Fashion-Monger, Male,
Obsequious waits, and posted at the Tail;
Much worse, if Possible, and more by far
Fond of his Trappings than the Ladies are;
Exactly looking, cover'd with his Hair,
Like Orson that was suckl'd by the Bear:
Forgetting, as in Slovens, so no less
Is Decency destroy'd by the Excess.
Or were you in the Publick Walks to see
Some labour'd Scenes of Hip-Civility;
When first they meet how low our Beaus will bend,
You'd think they stood at once on either End:
Then how they toss their Noddles when they rise,
To shake the Hair and Powder from their Eyes.
Others will hug, and close as Lovers Kiss,
Yet when they're parted all is Scorn and Hiss:
To such Extremes is Modern Breeding grown,
Present, y'ave all; and when y'are Absent, none:
A Thousand Vows of Friendship tho' they swore,
Not one of 'em is ever thought on more.
So little can we in our Gentry see
That Vulgar Vertue of Sincerity.
Or were you in our Theatres to sit,
And hear the Fools clap Bombast off for Wit,
Farce for true Comedy; and the Good Sense
That Manly speaks, run down for Impudence.
Were you behind the Gawdy Scenes to go,
(For Wit is only now Machine and Show)
There view the Fops to Leonora bending,
Like Twenty fawning Spaniels on one Ritch attending.
Or shou'd you there a Base-born Mimick see,
Hugg'd and Ador'd by Coxcombs of Degree,
With only a deliberate Impudence
To recommend him for a Man of Sense;
Observe his Haughty Port, and Tow'ring Looks,
That in a Bulk sat lately Chaffering Books;
Or see him swell'd with his ill-gotten Pelf,
Scorn Persons vastly better than himself;
How big he looks when any Generous Pen
Describes how much he's loath'd by Honest Men;
But vain's his Anger, impotent his Rage;
His Valour all is shown upon the Stage;
His Tongue is sharp, and in Abuse delights,
But blunt must be the Sword with which he fights.
Or were you, next, to see the Midnight Rout
In all their Curs'd Employments scour about;
Some for Revenge, and some for Thievery prowl,
And some in quest of Punks upon the Stroll:
Were you to see 'em drink to an Excess,
And ev'ry Glass advance in Wickedness,
Till equally enflam'd with Wine and Drab,
At last 'tis only Damn me, and a Stab;
Nor Justice fear; now but the Murd'rer's Scoff,
Assur'd a Jury Brib'd will bring 'em off:
When any Tryal does for Blood befal,
Their God and Country they their Umpires call,
When Twelve Corrupted Perjur'd Rogues are all.
Or shou'd you, at your Leisure, take the Pains
To visit all the Pris'ners in their Chains;
What Wretches doom'd to Durance wou'd you find?
For various Crimes to various Wards assign'd.
Our many Bridewells we shall mention, first,
With Hemp and Hunger equally accurst;
Where, of all Human Privilege debarr'd,
The Vagrant and the Harlot labour hard,
And thrice a Day are Lash'd for their Reward.
The vicious Bench we will the next survey,
Where many Villains won't come out that may,
And needier Knaves that wou'd are forc'd to stay.
But most the Common-Side your Eye wou'd draw,
Where fed with Basket Alms, and lodg'd on Straw,
You see the Curse of Debt, and Cruelty of Law:
Ev'n Transportation much a milder Doom
Than perishing, unpittied, thus at home.
Nor can you unconcern'd thro' Ludgate pass
Without a Conscience steel'd, or Heart of Brass;
Where, thro' the Iron Grate, a Rueful Tongue
Directs you to the Box below 'em hung,
To angle Farthings from the num'rous Throng;
But so successless, for one Giver found,
Ten thousand shove along and never hear the Sound.
But highest, Newgate your Concern wou'd rear,
To see 'em Batt'ning in their Dung, and hear
An Everlasting Clank of Irons there:
A Nest of Villains, resolutely blind,
That neither Present, Past or Future mind;
But to the utmost Verge of Fate pursue
An impious Life, nor their Condition rue,
When Tyburn and Damnation's full in view:
No least Contrition in their Eyes is seen,
But all is Brass without, and hardned Fiend within.
Just so did W--- make Gen'rous E---rt bleed,
Lost to remorse, and laughing at the Deed;
But tho' a Pardon then deferr'd his Doom,
Which way can he prevent the Hell to come.
Or were you yet a blacker Scene to draw,
And fairly open all th'Abuse of Law;
Where you will find more Falsehood, Fraud, Design,
Than is in all the Villains all our Jayls confine:
No Cause with them is better, or is worse,
But as it takes its Measure from the Purse.
Those that have scap'd both Famine, Fire, and War,
Have perish'd by the Harpies of the Bar:
Their large Extended Tallons proudly stretch
Where no Pursuit, no Judgment else can reach.
Or were You of th'Exchange to take a View,
No matter whether 'twere the Old or New;
And for a while incline a List'ning Ear
To all the fulsome Language vended there;
What solemn Vows are cheaply thrown away,
The work of ev'ry Hour in ev'ry Day,
Without one serious Thought of what they say;
How very hard they at Damnation Strain
And many times for scarce a Farthing's Gain;
In spite of all the Lies besides You hear,
You'd think their Father only Worship'd there.
Or were You next to mount the Guard, and see
Their several Classes of Impiety;
The Officers at Dice Blaspheming here,
The Foot with Candles Sketching Lewdness there:
But most the Horse You wou'd for Vice admire,
At once all Swearing as at once they Fire:
As in some Kitchen You perhaps have seen
The Larding stuck so thick no Flesh appear'd between,
So take from their Discourse the Oaths away,
And You'll Retrench Nine Tenths of all they say.
But at the Sutlers who their talk can tell!
Where ev'ry Night they ev'n themselves excell,
And breath with Brandy-Lungs the very Air of Hell.
Or were you at the Court some Days t'attend
To raise your Self, or Benefit your Friend,
Shou'd you observe the Honest wait in vain,
And hope Preferment none but Knaves attain,
See Titles bought by Fops Unlearn'd and Base;
But Honour is as hard to get as Grace;
For that's not so deriv'd from Sire to Son,
Much more by Whores obtain'd, or Flatt'ry won:
Shew me the Man (for which the Times be prais'd)
Who by his own Intrinsick Worth was rais'd
Made often for no other Reason Great,
But to Secure their Votes, or serve a Turn of State:
The Run of ev'ry Dy the Courtiers know,
Or Worth might once Expect a Lucky Throw;
But on the truely Brave no Chance will fall,
For Merit's Nothing there where Money's all.
Shou'd You see all this, Jack, and from Your Heart
The Truth, and nothing but the Truth Impart,
Wou'dst thou be any thing but what thou Art?
Pleas'd with thy Fate, and faithful to our Rules,
How wou'dst thou Pity all these Wiser Fools!