Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN EPISTLE TO MY FRIEND J.B., by ROBERT DODSLEY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

AN EPISTLE TO MY FRIEND J.B., by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Why, jack, how now? I hear strange stories
Last Line: Was sure to split, and sink, and damn.
Subject(s): Curses; Love; Marriage; Temptation; Women; Weddings; Husbands; Wives

WHY, Jack, how now? I hear strange stories
How Molly what-d'ye-call't your whore is—
Hold, blot that word, rhyme forced it in—
Your dear kind mistress, sir, I mean;
And people say, but whisper that,
That she, poor soul! is big with brat.
If this, as I believe, is true,
In what a cursèd case are you!
You must the child maintain and father,
Or hang or marry, which you'd rather:
Confounded choices all, I vow:
But you ne'er dreamed of these till now.
These thoughts, alas! were ne'er in your head,
Th' unlucky feat was done hand o'er head:
Reason was then esteemed a bastard,
True pleasure's foe, a fearful dastard,
And by stiff passion over-mastered.
But don't you think yourself an ass
To vent your spleen upon a lass,
A silly, unexperienced girl,
Who, you might swear, in time would tell?
Besides, you might, better than there,
Have spit your venom you know where,
And then no further harm had come on't;
Now you must reap the fruit of some on't.
O bitter fruit! to those that taste it;
You've cause to pray that heav'n may blast it,
And from the tree abortive cast it.
For should the wicked embryon
(As all ill weeds are apt) come on,
The Lord have mercy on poor John!
Who'll then be cursedly surrounded
With noise and squall; and quite confounded
With highting, dancing, jumping, jowling,
And th' hateful noise of cradle rolling:
Now deafed with mammy's lullaby,
In consort with the peevish cry
Of squeaking, squalling, roaring brat,
Enough to make one tear one's hat.
Then (to say nothing of the shame
It brings unhappy dad and mam)
Your silver will be ever flying;
Something or other always buying:
Clouts, blankets, barrows, hippins, swaddles,
Fine painted gew-gaws, corals, rattles,
Caps, aprons, bibs, white frocks and mantling,
To clothe the little sh—n bantling.
On th' other side, when pregnant foetus
Breaks from the womb with strong impetus,
And comes into this world of grief
(O that it ne'er may come with life!),
There's such a hurry! such a pother!
Old wives and midwives one with th' other
Such eating, drinking and devouring;
Such washing, rinsing, scrubbing, scouring;
Such waiting, running and attending;
Thy purse had need to have no ending.
But hold, I run on hand o'er head,
And quite forget poor Moll in bed.
'Ah John!', the new-made granny cries,
'Behold my girl with pitying eyes,
See, see, poor soul! how sick she lies!
How weak, how faint and how decayed;
Some strengthening cordials must be had.'
Then item this, and that—and that;
And item—item—God knows what;
For mammy some, and some for brat.
And now look back again, and view
The mischiefs thou hast run into,
Led blindly on by sinful passion
(God knows!) and small consideration!
See what a num'rous trin of plagues
Attend upon the damned intriguesOf that part of the female sex!
See, and beware, their future wiles,
Fly, fly their false deluding smiles:
Shun 'em as basilisks, whose eyes
Dart wounds, and he that's wounded dies.
Fly their temptations, fly their charms,
Fly their damned deceitful arms.
Avoid them as the plague or pox,
Shun 'em as precipices, rocks,
Dire rocks! near which whoever came,
Was sure to split, and sink, and damn.

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