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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/Phyllis, or the Progress of Love




DESPONDING Phyllis was endued
With every talent of a prude:
She trembled when a man drew near;
Salute her, and she turn'd her ear;
If o'er against her you were plac'd,
She durst not look above your waist:
She'd rather take you to her bed,
Than let you see her dress her head:
In church you hear her, through the crowd,
Repeat the absolution loud:
In church, secure behind her fan,
She durst behold that monster man:
There practis'd how to place her head,
And bit her lips to make them red;
Or, on the mat devoutly kneeling,
Would lift her eyes up to the cieling,
And heave her bosom unaware,
For neighbouring beaux to see it bare.
At length a lucky lover came,
And found admittance to the dame.
Suppose all parties now agreed,
The writings drawn, the lawyer feed,
The vicar and the ring bespoke:
Guess, how could such a match be broke?
See then what mortals place their bliss in!
Next morn betimes the bride was missing:
The mother scream'd, the father chid;
Where can this idle wench be hid?
No news of Phyl! the bridegroom came,
And thought his bride had skulk'd for shame;
Because her father us'd to say,
The girl had such a bashful way!
Now John the butler must be sent
To learn the road that Phyllis went;
The groom was wish'd to saddle Crop;
For John must neither light nor stop,
But find her, wheresoe'er she fled,
And bring her back, alive or dead.
See here again the devil to do!
For truly John was missing too:
The horse and pillion both were gone!
Phyllis, it seems, was fled with John.
Old Madam, who went up to find
What papers Phyl had left behind,
A letter on the toilet sees,
To my much honoured father — these —
('Tis always done, romances tell us,
When daughters run away with fellows)
Fill'd with the choicest commonplaces,
By others us'd in the like cases.
"That long ago a fortuneteller
Exactly said what now befel her;
And in a glass had made her see
A serving-man of low degree.
It was her fate, must be forgiven;
For marriages were made in Heaven:
His pardon begg'd: but, to be plain,
She'd do't if 'twere to do again:
Thank'd God, 'twas neither shame nor sin;
For John was come of honest kin.
Love never thinks of rich and poor:
She'd beg with John from door to door.
Forgive her, if it be a crime;
She'll never do't another time.
She ne'er before in all her life
Once disobey'd him, maid nor wife.
One argument she summ'd up all in,
The thing was done, and past recalling;
And therefore hop'd she should recover
His favour, when his passion's over.
She valued not what others thought her,
And was — his most obedient daughter."
Fair maidens, all attend the Muse,
Who now the wandering pair pursues:
Away they rode in homely sort,
Their journey long, their money short;
The loving couple well bemir'd;
The horse and both the riders tir'd:
Their victuals bad, their lodging worse;
Phyl cry'd! and John began to curse:
Phyl wish'd that she had strain'd a limb,
When first she ventur'd out with him;
John wish'd, that he had broke a leg,
When first for her he quitted Peg.
But what adventures more befel them,
The Muse has now no time to tell them;
How Johnny wheedled, threaten'd, fawn'd,
Till Phyllis all her trinkets pawn'd:
How oft she broke her marriage vows
In kindness to maintain her spouse,
Till swains unwholesome spoil'd the trade;
For now the surgeons must be paid,
To whom those perquisites are gone,
In Christian justice due to John.
When food and raiment now grew scarce,
Fate put a period to the farce,
And with exact poetick justice;
For John was landlord, Phyllis hostess;
They keep, at Staines, the Old Blue Boar,
Are cat and dog, and rogue and whore.