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A Roman Knight, whom Cæsar forced upon the Stage
What! no way left to shun th' inglorious stage,
And save from infamy my sinking age !
Scarce half-alive, oppress'd with many a year,
What in the name of dotage drives me here?
A time there was, when glory was my guide,
Nor force nor fraud could turn my steps aside ;
Unaw'd by power, and unappall’d by fear,
With honest thrift I held my honour dear :
But this vile hour disperses all my store,
hoard of honour is no more; For ah ! too partial to my life's decline, Cæsar persuades, submission must be mine; Him I obey, whom Heaven itself obeys, Hopeless of pleasing, yet inclin'd to please. Here then at once I welcome every shame, And cancel at threescore a life of fame
; No more my titles shall my children tell, The old buffoon will fit my name as well ; This day beyond its term my fate extends, For life is ended when our honour ends.
• This translation was first printed in one of our Author's earliest works, “ The Present State of Learning in Europe,” 12mo. 1759; but was omitted in the second edition, wbich appeared in 1774.
SECLUDED from domestic strife,
Jack Book-worm led a college life;
A fellowship at twenty-five,
Made him the happiest man alive ;
He drank his glass, and crack'd his joke,
And freshmen wonder'd as he spoke.
Such pleasures, unallay'd with care,
Could any accident impair?
Could Cupid's shaft at length transfix
Our swain arrived at thirty-six ?
O had the archer ne'er come down
To ravage in a country town!
Or Flavia been content to stop
At triumphs in a Fleet-street shop.
O had her eyes forgot to blaze !
Or Jack had wanted eyes to gaze.
But let exclamation cease,
Her presence banish'd all his peace.
So with decorum all things carry'd ;
Miss frown'd, and blush'd, and then was married.
Need we expose to vulgar sight The raptures of the bridal night? Need we intrude on hallow'd ground, Or draw the curtains clos'd around ?
* This and the following Poem were published by Dr. GOLDSMITH in his Volume of Essays, which appeared in 1765.
THE DOUBLE TRANSFORMATION.
Let it suffice, that each had charms;
He clasp'd a goddess in his arms;
And, though she felt his usage rough,
Yet, in a man, 'twas well enough.
The honey-moon like light'ning flew,
The second brought its transports too.
A third, a fourth, were not amiss,
The fifth was friendship mix'd with bliss :
But, when a twelvemonth pass'd away,
Jack found his goddess made of clay ;
Found half the charms that deck'd her face
Arose from powder, shreds, or lace;
But still the worst remain'd behind,
That very face had robb’d her mind.
Skill'd in no other arts was she,
But dressing, patching, repartee ;
And, just as humour rose or fell,
By turns a slattern or a belle;
'Tis true she dress'd with modern grace
Half naked at a ball or race ;
But when at home, at board or bed,
Five greasy night-caps wrap'd her head.
Could so much beauty condescend
To be a dull domestic friend?
Could any curtain lectures bring
To decency so fine a thing?
In short, by night, 'twas fits or fretting;
By day, 'twas gadding or coquetting.
Fond to be seen, she kept a bevy
Of powder'd coxcombs at her levy ;
The 'squire and captain took their stations,
And twenty other near relations;
Jack suck'd his pipe, and often broke
A sigh in suffocating smoke;
While all their hours were pass'd between
Insulting repartee or spleen.
THE DOUBLE TRANSFORMATION.
Thus as her faults each day were known; He thinks her features coarser grown ; He fancies every vice she shows, Or thins her lip, or points her nose : Whenever rage or envy rise, How wide her mouth, how wild her eyes ; He knows not how, but so it is, Her face is grown a knowing phyz; And, though her fops are wond'rous civil, He thinks her ugly as the devil.
Now, to perplex the ravell’d nooze,
As each a different way pursues,
While sullen or loquacious strife
Promis'd to hold them on for life,
That dire disease, whose ruthless power
Withers the beauty's transient flower :
Lo! the small pox, whose horrid glare
Levell’d its terrors at the fair ;
And, rifling every youthful grace,
Left but the remnant of a face.
The glass, grown hateful to her sight,
Reflected now a perfect fright:
Each former art she vainly tries
To bring back lustre to her eyes.
In vain she tries her paste and creams,
To smooth her skin or hide its seams;
Her country beaux and city cousins,
Lovers no more, flew off by dozens
The squire himself was seen to yield,
And ev'n the captain quit the field.
Poor madam now condemn'd to hack The rest of life with anxious Jack,