Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, VERSES, SPOKEN EXTEMPORE AT THE MEETING OF A CLUB, by JOHN BYROM

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: Our president in days of yore
Last Line: Provided that the brain be sound.
Subject(s): Clothing & Dress

On the appearance of the President in a Black Bob Wig, who had usually worn a
White Tie.

OUR President in days of yore
Upon his head a Caxen wore,
Upon his head he wore a Caxen
Of hair as white as any flaxen;
And now he heeds it not a fig,
But wears upon his poll a wig,
A shabby wig upon his poll
Of hair as black as any coal.

A sad and dismal change, alas!
Choose how the deuce it came to pass:
Poor President! what evil fate
Revers'd the colour of his pate?
For if that lamentable dress
Were his own choosing, one would guess,
By the deep mourning of his head,
His wits were certainly gone dead.

Sure it could ne'er be his own choosing
To put his head in such a housing:
It must be ominous I fear;
Some mischief to be sure is near:
Nay, should that black foreboding phiz
Speak from that sturdy trunk of his,
Who could forbear to think it spoke
Just like a raven from an oak?

A Caxen of so black a hue
On our affairs looks plaguy blue:
We do not meet with such an omen
In any story, Greek or Roman:
A comet or a blazing star
Were not so terrible by far;
No; in that wig the Fates have sent us
Of all the portents the most portentous.

Who does not tremble for the club
That looks upon his wig—so scrub!
Without a knot! without a tie!
What can we hang together by?
So scrub a wig to look upon!
How can the dire phenomenon
Be long before it has undone us?
Oh! 'tis a cruel bob upon us.

The president, with wig so white,
Appear'd another mortal quite;
Nay, when he sprinkled it with powder,
No man in Manchester talk'd louder.
How blest were we! but now, alack!
The wearing of a wig so black,
Such a disgrace has brought about,
Burn it! 'twill never be worn out.

Thou art a Lawyer, honest Joe,
I prithee, wilt thou let us know
Whether the black act won't extend
So as to reach our worthy friend?
What! can he wear a wig so shabby,
When folks are hang'd from Waltham Abbey,
For loving ven'son, and appearing
So like his head, so much like fearing?

You're a Divine, Sir; I'll ask you,
Is that a Christian, or a Jew,
Or Turk? "Aye, Turk as sure as hops,
"You see the Sar'cen in his chops:"
And yet these chops, tho' now so homely,
Were christian-like before, and comely.
That wicked wig! to make a face
So absolutely void of grace!

You, master Doctor, will you try
Your skill in Physiognomy?
Of what disease is it a symptom?
Don't look at me, but look at him, Tom.
Is it not scurvy think you? "Yes,
"If aught be scurvyish, it is.
"A frenzy 'tis, or per'wigmanie
"That overruns his pericranie."

"It seems to me a complication
"Of all distempers in some fashion:
"It is a coma, that is plain,
"A great obstruction of the brain.
"A man to take his brains and bury 'em
"In such a wig, shews a delirium!
"I never saw a human face
"That suffer'd more by such a case.

"If you examine it, you'll see 'tis
"Pissburnt; that shews a diabetes.
"Bad weather has relax'd, you see,
"The fibres to a great degree.
"Certes the head, in these black tumours,
"Is full of vitiated humours;
"Of vitiated humours full,
"Which shews a numbness of the skull.

"So of the rest"—But now, friend Thomas,
The cure will be expected from us;
For while it hangs on him, of course
It will, if possible, grow worse.
"Habit so foul! there is, in short,
"Nothing but salivation for't."
But what can salivation do?
It has been flux'd and reflux'd too.

But why to doctors do I urge on
The bus'ness of a barber-surgeon?
Your barber-surgeon is the man
It must be cur'd by, if it can.
Ring for my landlord Lawrenson;
Come let's e'en try what can be done;
A remedy there may be found
Provided that the brain be sound.

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