Trivia: Or, the Art of Walking
the Streets of London (1716).
Quo te Moeri pedes? An, quo via ducit, in Urbem?Virgil
[Whither afoot, Moeris? Is it, as the path leads, to
town?Virgil, Eclogue IX.1 (Loeb)]
The World, I believe, will take so little Notice of me, that
I nee not take much of it. The Criticks may see by this Poem,
that I walk on Foot, which probably may save me from their Envy.
I should be sorry to raise that Passion in Men whom I am so much
obliged to, since they allowed me an Honour hitherto only shown
to better Writers: That of denying me to be the Author of my own
Gentlemen, If there be any thing in this Poem,
good enough to displease you, and if it be any Advantage to you
to ascribe it to some Person of greater Merit; I shall acquaint
you for your comfort, that among many other Obligations, I owe
several Hints of it to Dr. Swift. And if you will so far continue
your Favour as to write against it, I beg you to oblige me in
accepting the following Motto.
Non tu, in Triviis, Indocte,
Stridenti, miserum, stipula, dsperdere Carmen?
[Was it not you, Master Dunce,
who at the cross-roads
used to murder a sorry tune on a scrannel straw?
Virgil, Eclogues III.267 (Loeb)]
Of the Implements for walking the Streets, and Signs of
Through Winter Streets to steer your Course aright,
How to walk clean by Day, and safe by Night,
How jostling Crouds, with Prudence to decline,
When to assert the Wall, and when resign,
I sing: Thou, Trivia, Goddess, aid my Song,
Thro spacious Streets conduct thy Bard along;
By thee transported, I securely stray
Where winding Alleys lead the doubtful Way,
The silent Court, and opning Square explore,
And long perplexing Lanes untrod before.
To pave thy Realm, and smooth the broken Ways,
Earth from her Womb a flinty Tribute pays;
For thee, the sturdy Paver thumps the Ground,
Whilst evry Stroke his labring Lungs resound;
For thee the Scavinger bids Kennels glide
Within their Bounds, and Heaps of Dirt subside.
My youthful Bosom burns with Thirst of Fame,
From the great Theme to build a glorious Name,
To tread in Paths to ancient Bards unknown,
And bind my Temples with a Civic Crown;
But more, my Countrys Love demands the Lays,
My Countrys be the Profit, mine the Praise.
When the Black Youth at chosen Stands rejoice,
And clean your Shoes resounds from evry Voice;
When late their miry Sides Stage-Coaches show,
And their stiff Horses through the Town move slow;
When all the Mall in leafy Ruin lies,
And Damsels first renew their Oyster Cries:
Then let the prudent Walker Shoes provide,
Not of the Spanish or Morocco Hide;
The wooden Heel may raise the Dancers Bound,
And with the scallopd Top his Step be crownd:
Let firm, well hammerd Soles protect thy Feet
Thro freezing Snows, and Rains, and soaking Sleet.
Should the big Laste extend the Shoe too wide,
Each Stone will wrench th unwary Step aside:
The sudden Turn may stretch the swelling Vein,
Thy cracking Joint unhinge, or Ankle sprain;
And when too short the modish Shoes are worn,
Youll judge the Seasons by your shooting Corn.
Nor should it prove thy less important Care,
To chuse a proper Coat for Winters Wear.
Now in thy Trunk thy Doily Habit fold,
The silken Drugget ill can fence the Cold;
The Friezes spongy Nap is soakd with Rain,
And Showrs soon drench the Camlets cockled Grain.
True Witney Broad-cloth with its Shag unshorn,
Unpiercd is in the lasting Tempest worn:
Be this the Horse-mans Fence; for who would wear
Amid the town the spoils of Russias Bear?
Within the Roquelaures Clasp thy Hands are pent,
Hands, that stretchd forth invading Harms prevent.
Let the loopd Bavaroy the Fop embrace,
Or his deep Cloak be spatterd oer with Lace.
That Garment best the Winters Rage defends,
Whose ample Form without one Plait depends;
By various Names in various Counties known,
Yet held in all the true Surtout alone:
Be thine of Kersey firm, though small the Cost,
Then brave unwet the Rain, unchilld the Frost.
If the strong Cane support thy walking Hand,
Chairmen no longer shall the Wall command;
Evn sturdy Car-men shall thy Nod obey,
And rattling Coaches stop to make thee Way:
This shall direct thy cautious Tread aright,
Though not one glaring Lamp enliven Night.
Let Beaus their Canes with Amber tipt produce,
Be theirs for empty Show, but thine for Use.
In gilded Chariots while they loll at Ease,
And lazily insure a Lifes Disease;
While softer Chairs the tawdry Load convey
To Court, to Whites, Assemblies, or the Play;
Rosie-complexiond Health thy Steps attends,
And Exercise thy lasting Youth defends.
Imprudent Men Heavns choicest Gifts prophane.
Thus some beneath their arm support the Cane;
The dirty Point oft checks the careless Pace,
And miry Spots thy clean Cravat disgrace:
O! may I never such Misfortune meet,
May no such vicious Walkers croud the Street,
May Providence oer-shade me with her Wings,
While the bold Muse experiencd Dangers sings.
Not that I wander from my native Home,
And (tempting Perils) foreign Cities roam.
Let Paris be the Theme of Gallias muse,
Where Slavry treads the Street in wooden Shoes;
Nor do I rove in Belgias frozen Clime,
And teach the clumsy Boor to skate in Rhyme,
Where, if the warmer Clouds in Rain descend,
No miry Ways industrious Steps offend,
The rushing Flood from sloping Pavements pours,
And blackens the Canals with dirty Showrs.
Let others Naples smoother Streets rehearse,
And with proud Roman Structures grace their Verse,
Where frequent Murders wake the Night with Groans,
And Blood in purple Torrents dies the Stones;
Nor shall the Muse through narrow Venice stray,
Where Gondolas their painted Oars display.
O happy Streets, to rumbling Wheels unknown,
No Carts, no Coaches shake the floating Town!
Thus was of old Britannias City blessd,
Eer Pride and Luxury her Sons possessd:
Coaches and Chariots yet unfashiond lay,
Nor late-invented Chairs perplexd the Way:
Then the proud Lady tripd along the Town,
And tuckd up Petticoats securd her Gown,
Her rosie Cheek with distant Visits glowd,
And Exercise unartful Charms bestowd;
But since in braided Gold her Foot is bound,
And a long trailing Manteau sweeps the Ground,
Her Shoe disdains the Street; the lazy Fair
With narrow Step affects a limping Air.
Now gaudy Pride corrupts the lavish Age,
And the Streets flame with glaring Equipage;
The tricking Gamester insolently rides,
With Loves and Graces on his Chariots Sides;
In sawcy State the griping Broker sits,
And laughs at Honesty, and trudging Wits:
For you, O honest Men, these useful Lays
The Muse prepares; I seek no other Praise.
When Sleep is first disturbd by Morning Cries;
From sure Prognosticks learn to know the Skies,
Lest you of Rheums and Coughs at Night complain;
Surprizd in dreary Fogs or driving Rain.
When suffocating Mists obscure the Morn,
Let thy worst Wig, long usd to Storms, be worn;
Or like the powderd Footman, with due Care
Beneath the flapping Hat secure thy Hair.
Be thou, for evry Season, justly drest,
Nor brave the piercing Frost with open Breast;
And when the bursting Clouds a Deluge pour,
Let thy Surtout defend the drenching Showr.
The changing Weather certain Signs reveal.
Eer Winter sheds her Snow, or Frosts congeal,
Youll see the Coals in brighter Flames aspire,
And Sulphur tinge with blue the rising Fire:
Your tender Shins the scorching Heat decline,
And at the Dearth of Coals the Poor repine;
Before her Kkitchen Hearth, the nodding Dame
In Flannel Mantle wrapt, enjoys the Flame;
Hovring, upon her feeble Knees she bends,
And all around the grateful Warmth ascends.
Nor do less certain Signs the Town advise,
Of milder Weather, and serener Skies.
The Ladies gayly dressd, the Mall adorn
With various Dyes, and paint the sunny Morn;
The wanton Fawns with frisking Pleasure range,
And chirping Sparrows greet the welcome Change:
Not that their Minds with greater Skill are fraught,
Endud by Instinct, or by Reason taught,
The Seasons operate on every Breast;
Tis hence that Fawns are brisk, and Ladies drest.
When on his Box the nodding Coachman snores,
And dreams of fancyd Fares; when Tavern Doors
The Chairmen idly croud; then neer refuse
To trust thy busie Steps in thinner shoes.
But when the swinging Signs your Ears offend
With creaking Noise, then rainy Floods impend;
Soon shall the Kennels swell with rapid Streams,
And rush in muddy Torrents to the Thames.
The Bookseller, whose Shops an open Square,
Foresees the Tempest, and with early Care
Of Learning strips the Rails; the rowing Crew
To tempt a Fare, cloath all their Tilts in Blue:
On Hosiers Poles depending Stockings tyd,
Flag with the slackend Gale, from side to side;
Church-Monuments foretell the changing Air;
Then Niobe dissolves into a Tear
And sweats with secret Grief; youll hear the Sounds
Of whistling Winds, eer Kennels break their Bounds;
Ungrateful Odours common Sewers diffuse,
And dropping Vaults distill unwholesome Dews,
Eer the Tiles rattle with the smoaking Showr,
And Spouts on heedless Men their Torrents pour.
All Superstition from thy Breast repel.
Let credlous Boys, and prattling Nurses tell,
How, if the Festival of Paul be clear,
Plenty from libral Horn shall strow the Year;
When the dark Skies dissolve in Snow or Rain,
The labring Hind shall yoke the Steer in vain;
But if the threatning Winds in Tempests roar,
Then War shall bathe her wasteful Sword in Gore.
How, if on Swithins feast the Welkin lours,
And evry Penthouse streams with hasty Showrs,
Twice twenty Days shall Clouds their Fleeces drain
And wash the Pavement with incessant Rain.
Let not such vulgar Tales debase thy Mind;
Nor Paul nor Swithin rule the Clouds and Wind.
If you the Precepts of the Muse despise,
And slight the faithful Warning of the Skies,
Others youll see, when all the Towns afloat,
Wrapt in th Embraces of a Kersey Coat,
Or double-buttond Frieze; their guarded Feet
Defie the muddy Dangers of the Street,
While you, with Hat unloopd, the Fury dread
Of Spouts high-streaming, and with cautious Tread
Shun evry dashing Pool; or idly stop,
To seek the kind Protection of a Shop.
But Busness summons; Now with hasty Scud
You jostle for the Wall; the spatterd Mud
Hides all thy Hose behind; in vain you scowr,
Thy Wig alas! uncurld, admits the Showr.
So fierce Alectos snaky Tresses fell,
When Orpheus charmd the rigrous Powrs
Or thus hung Glaucus Beard, with briny Dew
Clotted and strait, when first his amrous View
Surprisd the bathing Fair; the frighted Maid
Now stands a Rock, transformd by Circes Aid.
Good Huswives all the Winters Rage despise,
Defended by the Riding-hoods Disguise:
Or underneath th Umbrellas oily Shed,
Safe thro the Wet, on clinking Pattens tread.
Let Persian Dames th Umbrellas Ribs
To guard their Beauties from the sunny Ray;
Or sweating Slaves support the shady Load,
When Eastern Monarchs show their State abroad;
Britain in Winter only knows its Aid,
To guard from chilly Showrs the walking Maid.
But, O! forget not, Muse, the Pattens Praise,
That female Implement shall grace thy Lays;
Say from what Art Divine th Invention came,
And from its Origine deduce the Name.
Where Lincoln wide extends her fenny Soil,
A goodly Yeoman livd grown white with Toil;
One only Daughter blessd his nuptial Bed,
Who from her infant Hand the Poultry fed:
Martha (her careful Mothers Name) she bore,
But now her careful Mother was no more.
Whilst on her Fathers Knee the Damsel playd,
Patty he fondly calld the smiling Maid;
As Years encreased, her ruddy Beauty grew,
And Pattys Fame oer all the Village flew.
Soon as the gray-eyd Morning streaks the Skies,
And in the doubtful Day the Woodcock flies,
Her cleanly Pail the pretty Huswife bears,
And singing, to the distant Field repairs:
And when the Plains with evning Dews are spread,
The milky Burthen smoaks upon her Head,
Deep, thro a miry Lane she pickd her Way,
Above her Ankle rose the chalky Clay.
Vulcan by chance the bloomy Maiden spies,
With Innocence and Beauty in her Eyes,
He saw, he lovd; for yet he neer had known
Sweet Innocence and Beauty meet in one.
Ah Mulciber! recall thy nuptial Vows,
Think on the Graces of thy Paphian Spouse,
Think how her Eyes dart inexhausted Charms,
And canst thou leave her Bed for Pattys Arms?
The Lemnian Powr forsakes the Realms above,
His Bosom glowing with terrestrial Love:
Far in the Lane, a lonely Hut he found,
No Tenant venturd on th unwholesome Ground.
Here smoaks his Forge, he bares his sinewy Arm,
And early Strokes the sounding Anvil warm;
Around his Shop the steely Sparkles flew,
As for the Steed he shapd the bending Shoe.
When blue-eyd Patty near his Window came,
His Anvil rests, his Forge forgets to flame.
To hear his soothing Tales she feigns Delays;
What Woman can resist the Force of Praise?
At first she coyly evry Kiss withstood,
And all her Cheek was flushd with modest Blood:
With headless Nails he now surrounds her Shoes,
To save her Steps from Rains and piercing Dews;
She likd his soothing Tales, his Presents wore,
And granted Kisses, but would grant no more.
Yet Winter chilld her Feet, with Cold she pines,
And on her Cheek the fading Rose declines;
No more her humid Eyes their Lustre boast,
And in hoarse Sounds her melting Voice is lost.
This Vulcan saw, and in his heavnly Thought,
A new Machine Mechanick Fancy wrought,
Above the Mire her shelterd Steps to raise,
And bear her safely through the Wintry Ways.
Strait the new Engine on his Anvil glows,
And the pale Virgin on the Patten rose.
No more her Lungs are shook with drooping Rheums,
And on her Cheek reviving Beauty blooms.
The God obtaind his Suit; though Flattry fail,
Presents with Female Virtue must prevail.
The Patten now supports each frugal Dame,
from the blue-eyd Patty takes the Name.