The Characters of the Christ-Cross Row, By a Critic, To Mrs

1 Great D draws near the Duchess sure is come,
2 Open the doors of the withdrawing-room:
3 Her daughters decked most daintily I see,
4 The dowager grows a perfect double D.
5 E enters next and with her Eve appears.
6 Not like yon dowager depressed with years:
7 What ease and elegance her person grace,
8 Bright beaming as the evening-star her face.
9 Queen Esther next how fair e'en after death;
10 Then one faint glimpse of Queen Elizabeth;
11 No more, our Esthers now are nought but Hetties,
12 Elizabeths all dwindled into Betties.
13 In vain you think to find them under E,
14 They're all diverted into H and B.
15 F follows fast the fair and in his rear
16 See folly, fashion, foppery straight appear,
17 All with fantastic clues, fantastic clothes,
18 With fans and flounces, fringe and furbelows.
19 Here Grub-street geese presume to joke and jeer,
20 All, all but Grannam Osborne's Gazetteer.
21 High heaves his hugeness H: methinks we see
22 Henry the Eighth's most monstrous majesty.
23 But why on such mock grandeur should we dwell?
24 H mounts to heaven and H descends to hell.
25 As H the Hebrew found, so I the Jew:
26 See Isaac, Joseph, Jacob pass in view.
27 The walls of old Jerusalem appear,
28 See Israel and all Judah thronging there. [...]
29 P pokes his head out, yet has not a pain:
30 Like Punch he peeps, but soon pops in again.
31 Pleased with his pranks, the pisgys calls him Puck,
32 Mortals he loves to prick and pinch and pluck.
33 Now a pert prig, he perks upon your face;
34 Now peers, pores, ponders with profound grimace;
35 Now a proud prince, in pompous purple dressed,
36 And now a player, a peer, a pimp or priest,
37 A pea, a pin, in a perpetual round,
38 Now seems a penny, and now shows a pound.
39 Like perch or pike in pond you see him come;
40 He in plantations hangs like pear or plum,
41 Pippin or peach, then perches on the spray,
42 In form of parrot, pye or popinjay.
43 P, Proteus-like, all tricks, all shapes can show,
44 The pleasantest person in the Christ-cross Row. [...]
45 As K a king, Q represents a queen,
46 And seems small difference the sounds between.
47 K as a man with hoarser accent speaks;
48 In shriller notes Q like a female squeaks.
49 Behold, K struts as might a king become;
50 Q draws her train along the drawing-room.
51 Slow follow all the quality of state:
52 Queer Queensberry only does refuse to wait. [...]
53 Thus great R reigns in town, while different far,
54 Rests in retirement little rural R;
55 Remote from cities lives in lone retreat,
56 With rooks and rabbit-burrows round his seat.
57 S sails the swan slow down the silver stream. [...]
58 So, big with weddings, waddles W,
59 And brings all womankind before your view:
60 A wench, a wife, a widow and a w[hor]e,
61 With woe behind and wantonness before.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): The Characters of the Christ-Cross Row, By a Critic, To Mrs —
Author: Thomas Gray
Genres: heroic couplet

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Source edition

Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771. Thomas Gray: English poems. Web. Oxford: Thomas Gray Archive, 2002.

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. 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.

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