THE CIT's COUNTRY-BOX, 1757.
Vos sapere & solos aio bene vivere, quorum,
Conspicitur nitidis fundata pecunia villis.
1 THE wealthy cit, grown old in trade,
2 Now wishes for the rural shade,
3 And buckles to his one-horse chair,
4 Old Dobbin, or the founder'd mare;
5 While wedg'd in closely by his side,
6 Sits madam, his unweildly bride,
7 With Jacky on a stool before 'em,
8 And out they jog in due decorum.
9 Scarce past the turnpike half a mile,
10 How all the country seems to smile!
11 And as they slowly jog together,
12 The cit commends the road and weather;
13 While madam doats upon the trees,
14 And longs for ev'ry house she sees,
15 Admires its views, its situation,
16 And thus she opens her oration.
17 What signify the loads of wealth;
18 Without that richest jewel, health? [Page 63]
19 Excuse the fondness of a wife,
20 Who doats upon your precious life!
21 Such easeless toil, such constant care,
22 Is more than human strength can bear.
23 One may observe it in your face —
24 Indeed, my dear, you break apace:
25 And nothing can your health repair,
26 But exercise, and country air.
27 Sir Traffic has a house, you know,
28 About a mile from Cheney-Row:
29 He's a good man, indeed 'tis true,
30 But not so warm, my dear, as you:
31 And folks are always apt to sneer —
32 One would not be out-done, my dear!
33 Sir Traffic's name so well apply'd
34 Awak'd his brother merchant's pride;
35 And Thrifty, who had all his life
36 Paid utmost deference to his wife,
37 Confess'd her arguments had reason,
38 And by th' approaching summer season,
39 Draws a few hundreds from the stocks,
40 And purchases his country box.
41 Some three or four mile out of town,
42 (An hour's ride will bring you down,)
43 He fixes on his choice abode,
44 Not half a furlong from the road:
45 And so convenient does it lay,
46 The stages pass it ev'ry day:
47 And then so snug, so mighty pretty,
48 To have an house so near the city! [Page 64]
49 Take but your places at the Boar
50 You're set down at the very door.
51 Well then, suppose them fix'd at last,
52 White-washing, painting, scrubbing past,
53 Hugging themselves in ease and clover,
54 With all the fuss of moving over;
55 Lo, a new heap of whims are bred!
56 And wanton in my lady's head.
57 Well to be sure, it must be own'd,
58 It is a charming spot of ground;
59 So sweet a distance for a ride,
60 And all about so countrified!
61 'Twould come to but a trifling price
62 To make it quite a paradise;
63 I cannot bear those nasty rails,
64 Those ugly broken mouldy pales:
65 Suppose, my dear, instead of these,
66 We build a railing, all Chinese,
67 Although one hates to be expos'd,
68 'Tis dismal to be thus inclos'd;
69 One hardly any object sees —
70 I wish you'd fell those odious trees.
71 Objects continual passing by
72 Were something to amuse the eye,
73 But to be pent within the walls —
74 One might as well be at St. Paul's.
75 Our house beholders would adore,
76 Was there a level lawn before,
77 Nothing its views to incommode,
78 But quite laid open to the road;[Page 65]
79 While ev'ry trav'ler in amaze,
80 Should on our little mansion gaze,
81 And pointing to the choice retreat,
82 Cry, that's Sir Thrifty's country seat.
83 No doubt her arguments prevail,
84 For madam's TASTE can never fail.
85 Blest age! when all men may procure
86 The title of a connoisseur;
87 When noble and ignoble herd
88 Are govern'd by a single word;
89 Though, like the royal German dames,
90 It bears an hundred Christian names;
91 As Genius, Fancy, Judgment, Goût,
92 Whim, Caprice, Je-ne scai-quoi, Virtù:
93 Which appellations all describe
94 TASTE, and the modern tasteful tribe.
95 Now bricklay'rs, carpenters, and joiners,
96 With Chinese artists, and designers,
97 Produce their schemes of alteration,
98 To work this wond'rous reformation.
99 The useful dome, which secret stood,
100 Embosom'd in the yew-tree's wood,
101 The trav'ler with amazement sees
102 A temple, Gothic, or Chinese,
103 With many a bell, and tawdry rag on,
104 And crested with a sprawling dragon;
105 A wooden arch is bent astride
106 A ditch of water, four foot wide,
107 With angles, curves, and zigzag lines,
108 From Halfpenny's exact designs. [Page 66]
109 In front, a level lawn is seen,
110 Without a shrub upon the green,
111 Where Taste would want its first great law,
112 But for the skulking, sly ha-ha,
113 By whose miraculous assistance,
114 You gain a prospect two fields distance.
115 And now from Hyde-Park Corner come
116 The gods of Athens, and of Rome.
117 Here squabby Cupids take their places,
118 With Venus, and the clumsy graces:
119 Apollo there, with aim so clever,
120 Stretches his leaden bow for ever;
121 And there, without the pow'r to fly,
122 Stands fix'd a tip-toe Mercury.
123 The villa thus completely grac'd,
124 All own, that Thrifty has a taste;
125 And madam's female friends, and cousins,
126 With common-council-men, by dozens,
127 Flock ev'ry Sunday to the feat,
128 To stare about them, and to eat.