"Ned cou'd not well digest this Change, / Forc'd in the World at large to range; / With Babel's Monarch turn'd to grass, / Wou'd it not break an Heart of Brass?"

— Somervile, William (1675-1742)

Place of Publication
Printed for Bernard Lintot
"Ned cou'd not well digest this Change, / Forc'd in the World at large to range; / With Babel's Monarch turn'd to grass, / Wou'd it not break an Heart of Brass?"
Metaphor in Context
In Days of yore, when Belles, and Beaux,
Left Masquerades, and Puppet-shows,
Deserted Ombre, and Basset,
At Jonathan's to squeeze and sweat;
When sprightly Rakes forsook Champaign,
The Play-House, and the merry Main,
Good Mother Wyburn, and the Stews,
To smoke with Brokers, stink with Jews:
In fine, when all the World run mad,
(A Story not less true than sad)
Ned Smart, a virtuous Youth, well known
To all this Chaste and Sober Town,
Got ev'ry Penny he could rally,
To try his Fortune in Change-Alley:
In haste to loll in Coach and Six,
Bought Bulls, and Bears, plaid twenty Tricks,
Amongst his Brother Lunaticks.
Transported at his first Success,
A thousand Whims his Fancy bless,
With Scenes of future Happiness.
How frail are all our Joys below?
Meer dazling Meteors, Flash, and Show!
Oh Fortune! false deceitful Whore!
Caught in thy Trap with thousands more,
He found his Rhino sunk and gone,
Himself a Bankrupt, and undone.
Ned cou'd not well digest this Change,
Forc'd in the World at large to range;
With Babel's Monarch turn'd to grass,
Wou'd it not break an Heart of Brass?

'Tis vain to sob and hang the Lip,
One Penny left he buys a Slip,
At once his Life, and Cares to lose,
Under his Ear he fits the Noose.
An Hook in an old Wall he spies,
To that the fatal Rope he ties:
Like Curtius now, at one bold Leap,
He plung'd into the gapeing Deep;
Nor did he doubt in Hell to find,
Dealings more just, and Friends more kind.
As he began to twist, and spraul,
The loosen'd Stones break from the Wall;
Down drops the Rake upon the Spot,
And after him an earthen Pot:
Reeling he rose, and gaz'd around,
And saw the Crock lie on the ground;
Surpriz'd, amaz'd, at this odd sight,
Trembling, he broke it in a fright;
When lo! at once came pouring forth,
Ingots, and Pearls, and Gems of Worth.
O'erjoy'd with Fortune's kind Bequest,
He took the Birds, but left the Nest;
And then to spy what might ensue,
Into a neighbouring Wood withdrew;
Nor waited long. For soon he sees,
A tall black Man skulk thro' the Trees;
He knew him by his shuffling Pace,
His thread-bare Coat, and hatchet Face:
And who the Devil should it be,
But sanctify'd Sir Timothy!
His Uncle, by his Mother's side,
His Guardian, and his faithful Guide.
This driv'ling Knight, with Pockets full,
And proud as any Great Mogul,
For his wise Conduct had been made
Director of the Jobbing Trade:
And had most piously drawn in
Poor Ned, and all his nearest Kin.
The greedy Fools laid out their Gold,
And bought the very Stock he sold;
Thus the kind Knave convey'd their Pelf,
By Hocus Pocus, to himself;
And to secure the Spoils he got,
Form'd this Contrivance of the Pot.
Here ev'ry Night, and ev'ry Morn,
Devout as any Monk new shorn,
The prostrate Hypocrite implores
Just Heav'n to bless his hidden Stores;
But when he saw dear Mammon flown,
The plunder'd Hive, the Honey gone,
No jilted Bully, no bilk'd Hack,
No Thief, when Beadles flay his Back,
No loseing Rook, no carted Whore,
No Sailor when the Billows roar,
With such a grace e'er curs'd and swore.
Then as he pore'd upon the Ground,
And turn'd his haggard Eyes around,
The Halter at his Feet he spy'd,
And is this all that's left? (he cry'd)
Am I thus paid for all my Cares,
My Lectures, Repetitions, Prayers?
'Tis well--there's something sav'd at least,
Welcome thou faithful, friendly Guest;
If I must hang, now all is lost,
'Tis cheaper at another's cost;
To do it at my own Expence,
Wou'd be downright Extravagance:
Thus comforted, without a Tear,
He fix'd the Noose beneath his Ear,
To the next Bough the Rope he ty'd,
Then P---ss'd, B---t himself, and dy'd.
Ned, who behind a spreading Tree,
Beheld this Tragi-comedy,
With hearty Curses rung his Knell,
And bid him thus his last Farewell.
Was it not, Uncle, very kind,
In me, to leave the Rope behind?
A Legacy so well bestow'd,
For all the Gratitude I ow'd.
Adieu, Sir Tim. by Heav'ns Decree,
Soon may thy Brethren follow thee,
In the same glorious manner swing,
Without one Friend to cut the String;
That hence Rapacious Knaves may know,
Justice is always Sure, tho' Slow.
Searching "heart" and "brass" in HDIS (Poetry)
At least 5 entries in ECCO and ESTC (1727, 1766, 1779, 1780, 1790, 1795).

Text from William Somervile, Occasional Poems, Translations, Fables, Tales, &c. (London: Bernard Lintot, 1727). <Link to ESTC><Link to Google Books>

Found also in Johnson's Works of the English Poets (1779-1780, 1790) and Somervile's Poetical Works (1766, 1780).
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.