Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, FASHION; A DIALOGUE, by JAMES HAY BEATTIE

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FASHION; A DIALOGUE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Consider, my good friend, the value
Last Line: And that all honour him, who praise.
Subject(s): Clothing & Dress; Fashion

"CONSIDER, my good Friend, the value"—
I have considered, Sir, I tell you,
And, preach and practise what you will,
I scorn'd them once, and scorn them still.
Pray, matters it to me or you,
How this and that man ties his queue,
If cloth or silk he choose to put on,
Or wear a white or yellow button?
Shall then submissive Virtue truckle
To imitate each fellow's buckle;
And must a numbscull be adored,
Because it styles itself a lord?
Is this the benefit which one (hark ye)
Expects to find in a free monarchy;
That honest, rough, bold Britons must,
Sprawling, like spaniel dogs, in dust,
The toes of every titled cub lick?
Then, hey for Sparta and republick!
"You poets think it only—a jest, eh!
"To cut and slash at peers and majesty!
"When did I ever say, a Briton
"Must creep, like pointer, hands and feet on?
"I only said, what I suppose
"You know, and every body knows,
"That in their forms of etiquette,
"The small must copy from the great;
"Must learn their passions and their fancies,
"How this lord laughs, and that duke dances.
"For, as a frugal housewife gathers
"Clippings of silk, and gaudy feathers,
"Which will by length of time prepare
"A covering for an easy chair:
"Even thus, from the great world, our beaus
"Pick shreds of swearing and bon mots;
"Which, when they o'er their souls have wrought' em,
"Hide Honesty's black leather bottom;
"And a new covering we behold
"Where every single patch is old."
And what, if I be not inclined
To clap a cover on my mind,
Nor shreds of tarnish'd wit revere,
Because they flaunted on a peer?
Although as relicks fools adore them,
Rags are but rags, whoever wore them.
"No doubt, Sir, you, a man of letters,
"Are bound to bellow at your betters!
"No cloaths are neat, no thoughts are wise,
"Which you don't wear, which you despise!
"Go, scream and cringe to your Apollo;
"What others follow'd I must follow,
"The grave man's care, the gay man's passion,
"The lady's every thing—the fashion."
I never would affirm, my friend,
(To see how folks misapprehend!)
That a good action grows a worse one,
For being done by any person.
I never will avoid the rabble
When right, because they're fashionable;
I only am not born along,
For fashion's sake, if they be wrong.
"Yes; sapient, philosophick wight
"You follow fashion where 'tis right!
"And pray, has any mortal seen you yet
"Make a neat bow, or walk a minuet?
"As much, I tell you, as a spire
"Is more esteem'd for being higher,
"Nobles have honour in a nation,
"Proportion'd to their exaltation."
And I allow to those great People
The same respect as to a steeple:
That one acknowledge they are high,
That one look up as one goes by;
But not, however, that one's head
Must jangle bells, or carry lead.
"I wish you would leave off your joking,
"Nothing on earth is more provoking.
"With me such quibbles ne'er prevail.
"What must I give you then?—a tale?"
"Yes; I may listen to your story,
"But, as a joker, I abhor ye."
A tree once in a churchyard grew,
Some say, an oak, and some, a yew;
An elm, or walnut, some prefer,
One ancient codex reads a pear:
But that is neither here no ther.
Two stems must from its root have grown,
Though afterwards there was but one;
For t'other, hewn from parent stock,
Was made into a weathercock.
How did the village boys admire
When first he got a-top the spire!
But when he saw, so far beneath,
The woodland, meadow, cornfield, heath,
Road, river, cottage, hillock, plain,
He was you cannot think how vain:
So vain, indeed, that he design'd
To turn about the first fair wind,
And shake in scorn his yellow tongue
At the old stock from which he sprung.
A flurry's long expected blast
Enabled him to move at last;
When, his head sparkling to the sun
He wagg'd a while and thus begun.
Fine company I was indeed in!
Hark ye, old log, is that your breeding?
Must a gold weathercock like me
Pay first respects to a poor tree?
In what high splendour am I born here?
You grovel in a churchyard corner,
Me all the parish come to view:
Pray, do they go to look at you?
You stand in dirt, must fall, and burn;
I turn, old boy; mark that—I turn.
Your shape—enough to frighten Nick!
Green, like a rusty candlestick!
My form how smooth! my skin how yellow!
Look, demme, what a clever fellow!
The solemn branches heave and sigh,
Then murmur slowly this reply.
If we be clumsy, you be limber,
What then? We both are of one timber.
Once a plain simple stick, when sold
You got a name, and you got gold,
Given by your masters, not your friends,
To fit you for their private ends.
What made them raise you to that throne!
Your interest, coxcomb? no; their own;
"You turn," you say; we have a notion,
That something regulates the motion.
You say "men study you;" vain prater,
They study but your regulator.
Yet, cocky be of cheer; one finds
Such failings even in human minds.
Lord Lighthead's wavering foppery see:
A gilded weathercock is he;
That from the common timber hew'd,
And set up merely to be view'd,
About while fashion's light gales veer him,
Thinks all who look up love or fear him;
Thinks they admire, who only gaze;
And that all honour him, who praise.

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