[Page 189]


1 SECLUDED from domestic strife,
2 Jack Bookworm liv'd a college life,
3 A fellowship at twenty-five
4 Made him the happiest man alive;
5 He drank his glass, and crack'd his joke,
6 And Freshmen wonder'd as he spoke;
7 Without politeness aim'd at breeding,
8 And laugh'd at pedantry and reading.
9 Such pleasures, unallay'd with care,
10 Could any accident impair?
11 Could Cupid's shaft at length transfix
12 Our swain arriv'd at thirty-six?
13 O had the archer ne'er come down
14 To ravage in a country town!
15 Or Flavia been content to stop
16 At triumphs in a Fleet-street shop!
17 O had her eyes forgot to blaze!
18 Or Jack had wanted eyes to gaze!
19 O! But let exclamation cease,
20 Her presence banish'd all his peace.
21 Our alter'd parson now began
22 To be a perfect ladies man;
23 Made sonnets, lisp'd his sermons o'er,
24 And told the tales he told before,
25 Of bailiffs pump'd, and proctors bit,
26 At college how he show'd his wit;
27 And, as the fair one still approv'd,
28 He fell in love or thought he lov'd.
29 So with decorum all things carry'd;
30 Miss frown'd, and blush'd, and then was married.
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31 Need we expose to vulgar sight
32 The raptures of the bridal night?
33 Need we intrude on hallow'd ground,
34 Or draw the curtains clos'd around?
35 Let it suffice, that each had charms;
36 He clasp'd a goddess in his arms;
37 And, though she felt his visage rough,
38 Yet in a man 'twas well enough.
39 The honey-moon like light'ning flew,
40 The second brought its transports too.
41 A third, a fourth, were not amiss,
42 The fifth was friendship mix'd with bliss:
43 But, when a twelvemonth pass'd away,
44 Jack found his goddess made of clay;
45 Found half the charms that deck'd her face,
46 Arose from powder, shreds, or lace;
47 But still the worst remain'd behind,
48 That very face had robb'd her mind.
49 Skill'd in no other art was she,
50 But dressing, patching, repartee;
51 And, just as humour rose or fell,
52 By turns a slattern or a belle:
53 'Tis true she dress'd with modern grace,
54 Half-naked at a ball or race;
55 But when at home, at board or bed,
56 Five greasy nightcaps wrapp'd her head.
57 Could so much beauty condescend
58 To be a dull domestic friend?
59 Could any curtain-lectures bring
60 To decency so fine a thing?
61 In short, by night, 'twas fits or fretting;
62 By day, 'twas gadding or coquetting.
63 Now tawdry madam kept a bevy
64 Of powder'd coxcombs at her levee;
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65 The squire and captain took their stations,
66 And twenty other near relations;
67 Jack suck'd his pipe, and often broke
68 A sigh in suffocating smoke;
69 She, in her turn, became perplexing,
70 And found substantial bliss in vexing.
71 Thus every hour was pass'd between
72 Insulting repartee or spleen.
73 Each day, the more her faults were known,
74 He thinks her features coarser grown;
75 He fancies every vice she shews
76 Or thins her lips, or points her nose:
77 Whenever rage or envy rise,
78 How wide her mouth, how wild her eyes!
79 He knows not how, but so it is,
80 Her face is grown a knowing phyz;
81 And, though her fops are wond'rous civil,
82 He thinks her ugly as the devil.
83 Thus, to perplex the ravell'd noose,
84 While each a different way pursues,
85 While sullen or loquacious strife
86 Promis'd to hold them on for life,
87 That dire disease, whose ruthless power
88 Withers the beauty's transient flower:
89 Lo! the small-pox, whose horrid glare,
90 Levell'd its terrors at the fair:
91 And, risling every youthful grace.
92 Left but the remnant of a face.
93 The glass, grown hateful to her sight,
94 Reflected now a perfect fright;
95 Each former art she vainly tries
96 To bring back lustre to her eyes.
97 In vain she tries her pastes and creams,
98 To smooth her skin, or hide its seams;
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99 Her country beaux and city cousins,
100 Lovers no more, flew off by dozens:
101 The squire himself was seen to yield,
102 And even the captain quit the field.
103 Poor Madam, now condemn'd to hack
104 The rest of life with anxious Jack,
105 Perceiving others fairly flown,
106 Attempted pleasing him alone.
107 Jack soon was dazzled to behold
108 Her present face surpass the old;
109 With modesty her cheeks are dy'd,
110 Humility dispaces pride;
111 For tawdry finery is seen
112 A person ever neatly clean:
113 No more presuming on her sway
114 She learns good-nature every day,
115 Serenely gay, and strict in duty,
116 Jack finds his wife a perfect beauty.


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Themes: fashion
Genres: character

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Source edition

Goldsmith, Oliver, 1730?-1774. The Miscellaneous Works of Oliver Goldsmith, M.B. Containing all his Essays and Poems. London: printed for W. Griffin, Catherine-street, in the Strand, 1775, pp. 189-192. [8],iv,[1],10-200p. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T146118; OTA K113624.000)

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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.