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IMITATIONS OF ENGLISH POETS.

BY

DR. SWIFT.

1. CHAUCER.

A TALE, LATELY FOUND IN AN OLD MANUSCRIPT.

WOMEN, though nat sans leacherie,

66

Ne swinken but with secrecie :
This in our tale is plain y-fond,
Of clerk that wonneth in Irelond;
Which to the fennes hath him betake
To filch the gray ducke fro the lake.
Right then there passen by the way
His aunt, and eke her daughters tway:
Ducke in his trowzes hath he hent,
Not to be spied of ladies gent.
"But ho! our nephew," crieth one;
"Ho!" quoth another, couzen John!"
And stoppen, and lough, and called out,—
This sely clerk full low doth lout.
They asken that and talken this,
"Lo here is coz, and here is miss."
But, as he gloz'd with speeches soote,
The ducke sore tickleth his erse root:
Fore-piece and buttons all to-brest,
Forth thrust a white neck and red crest.
"Te-he," cried ladies; clerke nought spake;
Miss star'd; and gray ducke crieth “quake.”

"O moder, moder," quoth the daughter,
"Be thilke same thing maids longen a'ter?
Bette is to pyne on coals and chalke,
Then trust on mon, whose yerde can talke."*

II. SPENSER.

THE ALLEY.

IN ev'ry town where Thamis rolls his tide,
A narrow pass there is, with houses low;
Where ever and anon the stream is eyed,

And many a boat soft sliding to and fro :
There oft are heard the notes of infant woe,
The short thick sob, loud scream, and shriller squall:
How can ye, mothers, vex your children so ;

Some play, some eat, some cack against the wall,
And, as they crouchen low, for bread and butter call.

II.

And on the broken pavement here and there
Doth many a stinking sprat and herring lie;

A brandy and tobacco shop is near,

And hens, and dogs, and hogs, are feeding by:

* Dr. Warton very properly observes, that this is "a gross and dull caricature of the father of English poetry, and very unworthy of its author at any age;" yet, bad as it is, Mr. Pope has taken the trouble to alter it materially in his own publication, though not at all to improve its delicacy. N.

He that was unacquainted with Spenser, and was to form his ideas of the turn and manner of his genius from this piece, would undoubtedly suppose that he abounded in filthy images, and excelled in describing the lower scenes of life. Dr. WARTON.

And here a sailor's jacket hangs to dry; At every door are sun-burnt matrons seen, Mending old nets to catch the scaly fry; Now singing shrill, and scolding oft between ; Scolds answer foul mouth'd scolds; bad neighbourhood,

I ween.

III.

The snappish cur, (the passenger's annoy)
Close at my heel with yelping treble flies;
The whimp'ring girl and hoarser screaming boy
Join to the yelping treble shrilling cries;

The scolding quean to louder notes doth rise,
And her full pipes those shrilling cries confound;
To her full pipes the grunting hog replies;

The grunting hogs alarm the neighbours round, And curs, girls, boys, and scolds, in the deep base are drown'd.

IV.

Hard by a sty, beneath a roof of thatch,
Dwelt Obloquy, who in her early days,
Baskets of fish at Billingsgate did watch,*
Cod, whiting, oyster, mackrel, sprat, or plaice:
There learn'd she speech from tongues that never

cease.

Slander beside her, like a magpie, chatters,

With Envy (spitting cat) dread foe to peace; Like a curs'd cur, Malice before her clatters,

And, vexing ev'ry wight, tears clothes and all to

tatters.

* How different from those enchanting imitations of Spenser, "The Castle of Indolence," and "The Minstrel !"

Dr. WARTON.

V.

Her dugs were mark'd by ev'ry collier's band,
Her mouth was black as bulldog's at the stall :
She scratched, bit, and spar'd ne lace ue band;
And bitch and rogue her answer was to all;
Nay, e'en the parts of shame by name would call.
Whene'er she passed by or lane or nook,

Would greet the man who turn'd him to the wall,
And by his hand obscene the porter took,
Nor ever did askance like modest virgin look.

VI.

Such place hath Deptford, navy-building town:
Woolwich and Wapping, smelling strong of pitch:
Such Lambeth, envy of each band and gown;
And Twick'nham such, which fairer scenes enrich,
Grots, statues, urns, and Jo-n's dog and bitch;
Ne village is without, on either side,

All up the silver Thames, or all adown;

Ne Richmond's self, from whose tall front are ey'd Vales, spires, meand'ring streams, and Windsor's tow'ry pride.

III. EARL OF DORSET.

ARTEMISIA.

THOUGH Artemisia talks, by fits,
Of councils, classics, fathers, wits;

Reads Malbranche, Boyle, and Locke:
Yet in some things, methinks, she fails;
'Twere well, if she would pare her nails,
And wear a cleaner smock.

Haughty and huge as High-Dutch bride;
Such nastiness, and so much pride,
Are oddly join'd by fate :

On her large squab you find her spread,
Like a fat corpse upon a bed,

That lies and stinks in state.

She wears no colours (sign of grace)
On any part except her face;

All white and black beside:
Dauntless her look, her gesture proud,
Her voice theatrically loud,
And masculine her stride.

So have I seen, in black and white,
A prating thing, a magpie hight,
Majestically stalk;

A stately, worthless animal,

That plies the tongue, and wags the tail,
All flutter, pride, and talk.*

PHRYNE.

PHRYNE had talents for mankind;
Open she was, and unconfin'd,

Like some free port of trade :
Merchants unloaded here their freight,
And agents from each foreigu state
Here first their entry made.

Her learning and good breeding such,
Whether th' Italian or the Dutch,
Spaniards or French came to her,

*Let the curious reader compare Fenton's imitation of Dor manner with this of Pope. Dr. WARTON.

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