[Page 125]


1 'TWAS past the Date of sav'ry Noon,
2 And downwards roll'd the radiant Sun,
3 When all (except us rhyming Sinners)
4 Had rosted, boil'd, and eat their Dinners;
5 In my great Chair I sat to pout,
6 And beat my weary Brains about;
7 About (what did not much avail)
8 Amanda's Riddle of the Nail
* The Question was this, Where was the first Nail struck?
9 When Somnus took me by Surprise,
10 And put his Finger in my Eyes:
11 'Twas He, for Poets never nod
12 Without the Influence of a God:
[Page 126]
13 I dream'd of what Why, you shall hear,
14 Good People all, I pray draw near,
15 Methought there lay before my Eyes
16 A Nail of more than common Size;
17 'Twas one that nails our Garden Door,
18 And oft my Petticoat has tore:
19 When sudden (it is true, my Friend)
20 It rear'd itself, and stood an end,
21 And tho' no Mouth I cou'd descry,
22 It talk'd as fast as you or I:
23 And thus began As I am told
24 'You Poets seldom deal in Gold;
25 'That's not the Price of empty Songs,
26 'But to Sir Thrifty Gripe belongs;
27 'Bright Silver is Sir Wary's Claim,
28 'And Copper for the lab'ring Dame;
29 'If so (that each may have their due)
30 'We rusty Nails belong to you;
31 'I therefore ask as my Desert
32 '(I hope you bear a grateful Heart)
33 'You write my Life and be it shown
34 'What strange Adventures I have known.
[Page 127]
35 'I must confess I was not made.
36 'So early quite as Adam's Spade;
37 'Yet many Ages I have known,
38 'And double with my Labours grown:
39 'I occupy'd, the first of all,
40 'A worthy Post at Gloomy-Hall,
41 'Where I, with seven hundred more,
42 'Were hammer'd in the spacious Door:
43 'And there had haply stuck till now,
44 'Had not old Simon broke his Plough;
45 'Who seeing none but us at hand,
46 'And knowing us a trusty Band,
47 'Me with the Pincers sore oppress'd,
48 'And drew me headlong from the rest:
49 'My lazy Life, alas! was done,
50 'And now I toil'd from Sun to Sun:
51 'None pity me, and none relieve,
52 'Till Fortune gave me a Reprieve:
53 'My Master broke his Plough again,
54 'And I from thence was dragg'd amain.
[Page 128]
55 'To Celia's Chamber next I came,
56 'And bore a Glass with curious Frame;
57 'To whom the lovely Nymphs repair:
58 'There Delia spread her shining Hair;
59 'All smiling there was Claudia seen,
60 'And Thalia ty'd her Ribbands green.
61 'At last my Mistress drew too nigh,
62 'And some ill Genius standing by,
63 'Drove me directly in her Eye.
64 'Then I was banish'd from her Train,
65 'Hurl'd on a Dunghill with Disdain.
66 'But idle long I did not lie,
67 'For old Sir Gripus walking by,
68 'Who held it was a crying Sin,
69 'To trample o'er and slight a Pin.
70 'And that they well deserve a Jail,
71 'Who proudly scorn a rusty Nail,
72 'Carry'd me home, and made secure
73 'With me a stately oaken Door.
74 'Through the strong Boards he made me go,
75 'To keep his Daughter from a Beau;
[Page 129]
76 'But she (what is't but Love can do?)
77 'With Aqua-fortis eat me through:
78 'A Cripple now, and useless quite,
79 'I'm banish'd from the chearful Light:
80 'And all folk despise me that behold;
81 'At last I to a Smith was sold,
82 'Who had Compassion on my Pain,
83 'And brought me to myself again.
84 'To Jeff'ry Bouze I next belong,
85 'Where sparkling Ale was clear and strong;
86 'One Vault, more precious than the rest,
87 'Was stow'd with Hogsheads of the best:
88 'And having lately lost the Key,
89 'He fast'ned up the Door with me:
90 'I stood a faithful Centry there,
91 'To guard the choice inspiring Beer
92 'From thirsty Bacchanalian Rage,
93 'Till his Son Guzzle was of Age:
94 'At length the Youth an Entrance found,
95 'Tho' stoutly I maintain'd my Ground;
[Page 130]
96 'Yet all my Strength wou'd not avail,
97 'For how cou'd one poor single Nail
98 'Maintain a dang'rous Post (you know)
99 'Against whole Legions of the Foe;
100 'Who well consid'ring Life's a Bubble,
101 'And drinking is the Cure of Trouble,
102 'And more that he again could brew
103 'Before the Date of Twenty two;
104 'While e'er that time the present Ale
105 'Might happen to be flat or stale;
106 'He came himself with fifty more,
107 'And wisely drank it out before.
108 'It wou'd be tedious now to tell
109 'What to your humble Slave befel,
110 'Amongst a rude mechanick Band,
111 'Till Fortune gave me to your Hand:
112 'Now if a proper Post I knew,
113 'I'd gladly be of use to you;
114 'But you resolve to hide no Pelf,
115 'And choose to walk abroad yourself:
[Page 131]
116 'But, Mira, these are dang'rous Times,
117 'I'd have you fasten up your Rhymes;
118 'And 'tis the best thing you can do,
119 'To nail up Pens and Paper too:
120 'Do this and get thee gone to spinning,
121 'Or wisely dearn your Father's Linen. "
122 This said a Cart with rumbling Sound
123 Came by, and shook the trembling Ground;
124 The Vision vanish'd from her Sight,
125 And Mira waken'd in a Fright.


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Title (in Source Edition): The TEN-PENNY NAIL.
Author: Mary Leapor
Genres: riddle

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Source edition

Leapor, Mrs. (Mary), 1722-1746. Poems upon several occasions: By Mrs. Leapor of Brackley in Northamptonshire. London: printed: and sold by J. Roberts, 1748, pp. 125-131. 15,[5],282p. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T127827; Foxon p. 413; OTA K101776.000) (Page images digitized from a copy at University of California Libraries.)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

Other works by Mary Leapor